Celebrating the Army of Volunteers who give the Villages Spark

Each village offering gratitude during Volunteer Week April 23-29

The team members who support the physical and emotional needs of residents may be the backbone of every village, but the people who give freely of their time in a volunteer capacity give the Villages spark, enhancing the lives of residents immeasurably.  

Hundreds upon hundreds of people from all walks of life bring their compassion and their experience to residents in countless different ways. There are students like Fatima Kalair, who came to Sandalwood Park to gain experience through co-operative education and found a much deeper connection than she anticipated. Countless students choose to stay in their Village, long after their official hours are completed, for they gain as much as they give in the process of volunteering.

There are retirees, such as Gary Williams and his Bull Mastiff, Kenya, who together found deep satisfaction in their time at Aspen Lake connecting with residents and spreading the love that only a big, gentle dog can offer. Since 2012, they’ve counted more than 250 hours and now, even though Kenya’s age is limiting her abilities, Gary’s connection to the village is deep and whenever they can, they’ll still visit.

Erin Seldon is the volunteer coordinator at The Village of Glendale Crossing, and she says she loves working alongside her 175 volunteers because each of them, from the age of 14 to 84, are examples of what is right in the world today.

“They teach me that we’re not here to do a job,” Erin says. “We’re here because we are called to do so and we’re here to give unselfishly. We’re here for the people and it’s not about working, it’s about making those connections.”

During Volunteer Appreciation Week April 23-29, each village will honour the dedicated contributions of their selfless volunteers. Among the 175 who will be recognized at Glendale Crossing are Douglas Quick and Christine Gawor, who in the past seven years have given more than 3,000 hours of their time to the residents they’ve come to adore.

“These people have given so selflessly,” Erin says, “and we could never have gotten as far as we have, without them.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at a Village near you, click here to get your application started. 


Here are just a few of the volunteers who make and impact in so many ways as written by their Volunteer Coordinators:

From Tansley Woods

Del MacDonald has volunteered at Tansley Woods since May, 2016 and has already assisted for more than 200 hours.   

Del is well loved on the Oaklands neighbourhood where she shares her expertise in the kitchen when they are baking, cooking or having Breakfast Club. She is very conscientious of the needs of residents and is eager to help whenever she can: running Card Bingo; Finishing Lines; or word games. Del loves to make people smile which comes naturally to her, residents enjoy her one to one friendly visits and she makes their day! This wonderful lady also volunteers on Sundays assisting residents to our Church Services.  Always smiling, Del is a true treasure at The Village of Tansley Woods.

Why I volunteer....(By Del) “My husband was a resident at Tansley Woods and he enjoyed his recreation time so much it made me want to give back. Volunteering gives me great satisfaction if I can make a difference by cheering someone up or filling in a quiet time with a chit chat as a game. It makes me feel proud to be a small part of the team as they work so effortlessly to make a pleasant home for the residents.”

Quote from Team Member:    “Del is always willing to lend a hand and jump in when needed. She always puts a smile on the residents faces.” 


From Winston Park

Faneesa I. has been volunteering with The Village of Winston Park since 2014.  She has held many volunteer positions such as one to ones, special event assistant, and cashier in the general store. In every position she exceeded our expectations as a volunteer. She is a very dedicated and responsible volunteer.  She is humble, kind and loving when assisting the residents.  She has been assisting in the general store on Sundays for quiet some time now and residents look forward to seeing her those mornings. She has made some lasting friendships as a few pop in to have a weekly chat with her. Every team member that has had the pleasure of working with her always ask for her to volunteer with them again. Staff describe her as “Just a pleasure” “responsible” “very mature” and “a very kind and caring person”.  

I wanted to highlight Faneesa because of her 3+ years relationship with Winston, and since she is such a dedicated volunteer she is now approaching 300 hours of volunteering. When I asked her why she still comes she says it is the positive atmosphere, the friendly faces and she loves talking with the residents.  It is a great community to be a part of.

Faneesa is not only a hard working individual at Winston, she is also a keen student. Her favourite class is biology. She sees herself somewhere in the neuroscience/ psychology field.

The Village of Winston Park wants to highlight Faneesa because of her outstanding dedication, hard work, and great moral that she brings to our village.


From Riverside Glen

Nicholas Holden is a Friendly Visiting Volunteer on our Egerton Neighbourhood since July 2016.  He has put in a total of 38 hours. He’s a University of Guelph Sociology Student with an aspiration to do a Masters in Social Work.   

Words from Nicholas: “I wanted to build my resume and gain life experience.  My Grandpa was a big inspiration to me.  He volunteered at the Retirement Home in his community.  I did some research and Riverside Glen seemed like a really accessible place to volunteer and gain some experience with seniors.  I have developed a close relationship with one resident in particular.  I feel like I am visiting a friend.I always leave with a resident saying “please come back soon” It makes me feel like I am making a difference in people’s lives. This experience has opened up my horizons and I have gained a lot of confidence. I have learned so much from the residents. 

Nicholas is a very dedicated volunteer who has developed a close relationship with a number of Residents who are isolated and do not leave their room often. He is giving life purpose and fostering authentic relationships with our residents.


From Coleman Care Centre

Volunteer Abby Roy and her beautiful 7 ½ year-old Golden Doodle Maya have been bringing smiles to the Village of Coleman Residents since 2012.   

Abby says: “We enjoy seeing all the Residents and spending time with them.  Maya is patient while everyone pets her and enjoys her company. We have made many friends at the Coleman Centre.” Residents’ faces light up when Abby and Maya make their rounds throughout the Village. Resident Eileen says, “It’s wonderful to have them here. I so enjoy it.”



From University Gates

Diane and Lady have been dedicated to our Volunteer Program since Nov. 2015.

She dedicated Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning for 1 hour visiting our residents around the village. This photo represents the relationships Diane and Lady created with a resident named Julia. Diane has gave 105 hours in 2016. 

Also at University Gates, there is Davina has been shining here with our residents and team members. She has dedicated her Wednesday morning assisting in our Downey Neighborhood and Assisting with Men’s Breakfast twice a month.  Davina has made an impact on our Men’s Breakfast being a successful program for our Men living here. This past year, 2016, Davina gave back 191.13 hours to our Village 











From Wentworth Heights   

Charlie and Georgie Bradshaw were the first Volunteers to hit 150 Volunteer Hours in the new retirement neighbourhoods. They are both wonderful and are in the General Store at least 3 times a week.  They also have taken a lead role with staging the store, managing the till and assisting with making the purchases and helping us determine what sells in the store.  They are huge advocates for the Village General Store and they are also the first to hit the 150 mark here at The Village of Wentworth Heights.  We honestly could not run the store without them!

Also from Wentworth heights is Dave Sawyer. Dave started volunteering with us last year and has been nothing short of a rockstar since he first started.  Dave started working in one of our safe neighbourhoods with what started as assisting one of our Rec. team members with Neighbourhood Time and quickly turned into him running the program independently. 

Shortly after starting with his Neighbourhood time weekly commitment he took on another evening and started volunteering with our large group BINGO program as well.  Not only does Dave run the BINGO for our Rec. Team member he also brings prizes each week specific to certain Resident's likes and dislikes. 


More recently Dave has started independently running a Men's Group (which is the program he had initially hoped to be running independently) in Retirement.  This group has be SO successful!  The men in Retirement and LTC have stated how much they enjoy the group and company of other men within the village.  Dave is an outstanding volunteer and we couldn't imagine our Volunteer or Rec. team without him.  Dave believes in our Schlegel Village Mission and We are truly blessed to have him as a volunteer and one day would love to see him as a Schlegel Team Member.


From Taunton Mills

Yvonne Traas has been a resident in our village for close to 7 years.  These have all been years filled with volunteering her time to many events. She knits, crochets and quilts for the Christmas bazaar, then spends the day selling items on the residents’ craft tables.  She has baked bread to sell in the General store, she is part of the Welcome Wagon committee, she has served as Treasurer for the Residents council for many years, plus many other events around the village.   

Yvonne had an outstanding 2016 as a volunteer in our village.  She wanted to hire a luxury 56 seat bus (with Rest Room) to take residents to see the Winter Festival of Lights in the Niagara Parks area.  The residents only cost was their evening meal, which they had at Bettys Restaurant in Niagara Falls.  She raised enough money to pay for the bus, provide drinks and snacks on the bus, give the driver a tip, and give a donation to the festival. 

 She succeeded in doing this by baking 6 dozen cinnamon rolls every Friday from the end of April to the end of August. She devoted 3 days a week to make and sell cinnamon rolls, Wednesday she made dough and let it rise, Thursday she formed the cinnamon rolls, let them rise then baked them.  Friday was sale day, starting at 9am and lasting some day until 2pm. Other residents joined in by baking squares and cookies. 

All together her time equalled 295 volunteer hours to give the residents of the Village of Taunton Mills a Christmas gift they will always remember. 

Quotes from the Residents:  “Her hands are never still,” says Marjorie P. 

“The welcoming ambiance of fresh cinnamon rolls every Friday morning, a smiling face making sure residents received a cinnamon roll even if they forgot their money. Love her,” says Julie M. 

“What a Wonderful Coach Ride,” says resident Shirley. “We Laughed, We sang. We enjoyed the great comfort and all because of Yvonne’s unending dedication in raising the funds for the Coach. Thanks Yvonne for your time, effort & delicious cinnamon buns!” 

From Erin Mills Lodge

We are very fortunate that Monica McPherson has been a part of The Village Erin Mills Lodge family as a volunteer for the past 12 years. Monica dedicates her time to our village four days a week, eight hours a day, shining her loving light on all those she encounters. She is a tremendous asset to Residents and Team Members, supporting in the dining room and assisting with recreation programs. Thank you Monica for all you do!   

“Monica always has a smile on her face and always strives to help the residents feel at home,” says team member Erika.

“With Monica’s help and support, we are able to run our programs smoothly and successfully,” says Sandy, team member.

“She has a well-meaning disposition and is ready to help anyone who needs it. She is courteous and has a great sense of humour. It has been a great experience with her the 3 years I’ve known her,” says Blanche, a resident.

“Monica is an asset to this home,” says another resident, Phyllis.


From Aspen Lake   

Joanne Kanaan has been a volunteer at The Village of Aspen Lake since November of 2015 and has accumulated over 160 volunteer hours. She has helped with countless different volunteer opportunities including trips, parties, diner’s club, ceramics, and many more. She plans to join the Palliative Care Team in the near future. Joanne has been an active and dedicated volunteer with Aspen’s Java Mentorship Program, and in fact became facilitator of the program in the fall of 2016. Joanne is a very important member of our Aspen Lake team and we feel blessed to have her with us.   

‘Joanne brings a positive, loving energy into our village that is complemented by her caring nature and dedication to brighten the lives of everyone she meets… residents, families and team members alike.’  - Debbie Durocher, volunteer coordinator.   

Donna Wilcox has also been a volunteer with us at The Village of Aspen Lake since March of 2012, and has accumulated over 300 volunteer hours. Every Friday morning, Donna’s beautiful melodies bring our Main Street to life when she shares her talents as a pianist at our chapel service. Donna’s dedication and gift of volunteering through her music has been a blessing to us all at Aspen Lake.

‘She gives music to our village, her true beauty evident in her message of music,’ says chaplain and counsellor, Bruce.   


From Humber Heights

David Gelley is our volunteer since 2016.  His parents lived at Humber Heights.  He is one of our volunteer ambassadors and continues his visits with our residents on a regular basis. His visits ease the transition for the new residents and help them to familiarize with our village. This is what David Gelley has to say about his volunteering:   

“I have been blessed. Volunteering, in general, is my small way of giving back to those in need or less fortunate.  Specifically, my contribution at Humber Heights started as a "thank you" to the staff for their kindnesses to my Mum and Dad who lived there for 4 years.  Now my visits with individual residents are both a way of keeping my parents' memory alive and a way of helping other residents enjoy their daily lives. Each resident's life is unique and everyone has a story to tell. Just being asked seems to bring out a flow of memories.  The irony of volunteering is "by giving - you receive" For me, at Humber Heights I think I receive more joy from the residents than they get from me.

Yes, I am blessed and every week I make a new friend”.  


From Village at St. Clair

“Volunteers are more precious than gold.”

Volunteers are special people.  They take time out of their schedules to support our programs and spend time with our neighbours. While some of our volunteers are a little more visual around the village than others, many are unsung heroes.  They support our village and our neighbours in an unselfish manner.  When I thought of some of the volunteers I began to think of one who is faithful and reliable.  One particular volunteer comes to mind…….every Thursday and Friday morning our village has a quiet volunteer who attends to her duties and never complains. In fact, her motto is always “ No problem!”


I had the chance to sit down with Ericia Di Pietro the other day to ask her what she enjoys most about volunteering.  Her honest response was that she is able to spend time with her Nonno in Gosfield.  She feels volunteering has given her an opportunity to learn more about senior health issues.  This opportunity for learning has motivated her to start looking at her own eating habits.  She has begun to cut out sugar and has done well with eliminating pop from her diet.  She realizes that it is never too   early to start really taking care of yourself. In the future, Erica might like to try working in a kitchen setting which services seniors. 

A regular volunteer for Gosfield and Talbot, Erica is complimentary regarding the entire team.  She says, “They are just great!  Everyone is so nice and helpful if I have a question.”   

She feels each neighbourhood is unique and she welcomes the chance to learn something new.  

Erica splits most of her time between Gosfield and Talbot.  She feels that each neighbourhood is unique and welcomes the chance to learn something new. 

“The neighbours really enjoy Erica’s company,” says Alexandra, a team member on Talbot.  “She is able to build positive caring relationships with all of our neighbours, she is part of the Talbot family, we love her!” 

Ericia was also one of our first volunteers to take the Supportive Dining Module.   This additional training allows volunteers to assist in the dining room.  

Enthusiastic and kind, Ericia has made many great connections with our neighbours.  She feels that volunteering has given her the confidence and the experience she needed to spread her wings.  Recently, she has been successful in gaining part time employment at a nearby retirement home.  Ericia perseverance and determination to success at both places shines through.  As she continues to following through on her weekly volunteer commitment’s.        

Gosfield’s recreation team member Colette, sums it all up:  “Erica is a blessing to the Gosfield neighborhood.”  

From Glendale Crossing - Douglas Quick and Christine Gawor  

3000+ hours of Service! These people have given so selflessly, and we could never have gotten as far as we have, without them.

In 7 years, these Shining Stars have both given over 3000 hours of their own time to enhance the quality life in our Village.

Words cannot express what they mean to us!

Congratulations, and a huge THANK-YOU to Douglas Quick and Christine Gawor! Two people who brighten up our lives almost daily at the Village of Glendale Crossing!