Janelle Hillier was searching for a meaningful career and felt she was at a dead end. With nothing left to lose, she decided in October 2013 to volunteer at the Salvation Amy Glenbrook Lodge in St. John’s. Little did she know at the time, her decision would lead her down the path she had been seeking.
Her supervisor, Major Darlene Colbourne, was impressed with Janelle’s passion and work ethic. “Janelle has been a great support to the Recreation Department and her co-workers speak highly of her for being dependable and for being very kind to the residents.
“But,” she adds, “volunteering is a two-way street. Not only has Janelle had an impact on the residents, I feel that they have touched her life as well.”
I’m almost 30 years old and I was starting to ask myself: “am I ever going to figure this out?” We’re lucky to have so many career options these days, but sometimes that just makes the decision about what to do in life more complicated.
It was for me anyway. I had completed a certificate program in software applications, and because of my interest in the medical field, I even took psychology courses at MUN.
I learned a lot about myself and people in general, but none of it clicked. Then a friend suggested that I become a volunteer.
It was always in the back of my mind so I thought, “why not?”
My adventure began at the Glenbrook Lodge, a long-term care facility for senior citizens, where I assisted recreation staff and residents with daily activities. The residents and I would often put our creative minds together to ensure an arts and craft piece became exactly what they envisioned. I also helped transport them to and from activities.
It was great to be with people from different generations, and while I felt I was helping them, I was learning from them too as they shared stories from their youth and traditions long past. It was rewarding, fun and enriching.
Volunteering not only allowed me to connect with residents, but with staff as well. I became part of a social circle that I never would have had. It also opened a window to the medical world, which I was interested in but had never been exposed to.
I discovered that Eastern Health was the perfect foundation for me to build a career. Previously, there was nothing relevant on my resume to make me stand out among all the other names but volunteering at Glenbrook Lodge bridged that gap and helped tremendously. The staff I worked with were very supportive and were more than happy to allow me to use them as references.
Now I have a job at Eastern Health as a Medical Service Aide!
If you are struggling to figure out what you want to do in life like I was, volunteering can really help. Like me, you may actually get to work in a field that may otherwise not be open to you. Volunteering allows you to feel your way through to what’s important to you and can change your life.
For more information on becoming an Eastern Health volunteer, visit Give section of the Eastern Health website. ■
This story was written by Janelle Hillier, a current volunteer and new employee at Eastern Health.