From Employee to Volunteer: Making Retirement Meaningful


I was an employee of the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre for 35 years. While I thoroughly enjoyed my career, I was looking forward to and excitedly awaiting my retirement. While working and raising a young family, I – like so many others – had very little free time. The demands of work and family occupied every waking moment.

With retirement and a grown family, the time had come for me to pursue some of my own personal interests! I enjoyed my newfound freedom but soon found that I was missing contacts and friends from the Janeway and felt that I needed something more meaningful to enhance my retired life. While I was busy with other projects and volunteer work, it was hard to completely disassociate from something that had been such a big part of who I was for 35 years.

A few months into my retirement, I was encouraged by a former co-worker to join the Janeway Auxiliary. I decided to give it a try and that decision proved to be a wise and fulfilling choice.

Mary Baker, volunteer and retired employee

Mary Baker, volunteer and retired employee

The Auxiliary offers many different avenues for contact and involvement. One of my favourite activities is during the monthly coffee and refreshment service where I spend time chatting with patients and families in a relaxed manner, without having to worry about other job-related tasks waiting for my attention!

Families express deep gratitude for the goodies provided and, more importantly for some, the opportunity to chat. I also work in the Janeway Gift Shop, which allows me to further connect with patients and families as well as with my former coworkers. It’s very rewarding.

The Auxiliary regularly receives funding requests for equipment or unit enhancement projects which allows me to see a different side of health care. I get to visit different areas of the hospital and chat with staff about funding needs and opportunities. In particular, I find connecting with other hospital and health-care auxiliaries across the Island enlightening and informative. Basically, I get a great deal of satisfaction similar to what the job provided, but without the job-related stressors.

It is important to note that the time commitment to volunteering is totally flexible. I determine how much or how little I want to contribute.

I recently turned the tables and encouraged one of my close friends and coworkers to join the Auxiliary. She agreed but now is quite happy that she made the choice to do so. She started with the evening coffee service and is now working in the Janeway Gift Shop. She is constantly interacting with former coworkers, patients and families in a much more relaxed setting.

Many of us, myself included, have been blessed to have had a wonderful career in health care and to have reached retirement in good health. Volunteering, even on a limited basis, is one way to give back for all that we have been given. ■

Eastern Health is currently looking for volunteers. To learn more, visit the Volunteer Opportunities section of our website.

This story was written by Mary Baker, a retired employee of Eastern Health, turned volunteer.

4 responses to “From Employee to Volunteer: Making Retirement Meaningful

  1. Good for you Mary. I remember you from the old Janeway down in Pleasantville when my premature twin babies were there for 6 weeks. You were a wonderful nurse/staff person, I’m sure you’re a wonderful volunteer as well. All the best

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