When Beth Sharp retired from her role in retail management, she worked her way through a sizeable list of renovations and yard work before turning her eye to finding the perfect volunteer opportunity. It didn’t take long to discover just the right fit.
“Initially, I volunteered at a retirement home and with a dementia day program,” recalls Beth, “but then I saw that Queensway Carleton Hospital needed people.” And the rest is history. Beth has been volunteering with QCH for almost a decade, and she loves every part of it.
In a special twist of fate, Beth was assigned to the Endoscopy Clinic, where patients undergo procedures like colonoscopies. “My husband passed away from colon cancer,” she explains, “so the clinic was a really good fit for me.”
“People are dreading it when they come in, especially for the first time, and if I can help them feel at ease before their procedure, show them what to change into and where to wait for the nurses, then that makes me feel good. I just tell them I’m their tour guide and wardrobe consultant,” she adds with a laugh.
That interaction with QCH staff and patients is a highlight of Beth’s volunteer experience. “I just love that hospital,” she says. “It has grown so much but it still has the little hospital feel—the doctors are so nice, everyone is friendly, it’s not intimidating to find your way around, there are always volunteers to guide people, and I feel productive and challenged.”
That’s part of the reason why Beth was so eager to return to QCH when the hospital—which had stopped its volunteer program due to COVID-19—opened up to volunteers again this past fall. “I was ecstatic when they called and said they needed me again,” she recounts. “I missed it a lot.”
While she consulted with family before heading back to volunteer in a healthcare environment in the middle of a global pandemic, she has absolutely no qualms. “The safety protocol is so strict that you’re probably safer here than the grocery store.”
And the benefits far outweigh any concerns. “I’m meeting interesting people, making new friends and learning a lot,” she concludes. “The hospital shows their appreciation every shift, but I tell them it does us volunteers as much good to be here as it does for them to have us.”
For more information on the volunteer program at Queensway Carleton Hospital, please visit qch.on.ca or call 613-721-4709.