With a new year just starting, we look back on all we have accomplished during 2017. During the year, Cardiogenix has decided to take part in diverse activities in the community by giving back as much as possible. However, with volunteering, many times, we feel like it is us who have gained. We volunteered a number of times at different organizations that have forever changed our perspective on how much there is to be done and what a difference we can all make! Below is a sample of some of our experiences:
Our first volunteering experience of the year was with an organization called MADA. This organization is volunteer-based and helps fight poverty in Montreal, meanwhile preserving those in need’s dignity and guiding them to become self-sufficient. MADA takes part in many ways to help overcome poverty. They have a food bank, a cafeteria, they offer clothing and furniture and even deliver meals called “Shabbat to Share” to those who are lonely.
Upon arrival, we were given a tour of their organization and got to see and understand the logistics behind how everything works. It is wonderful to see that their goal and mission is to protect the dignity of those who are less fortunate. When making boxes of goods to hand out, they place a quarter inside so those who receive it can then donate it to an organization of their liking so they can feel like they’re giving back to society as well. This shows that the intention of MADA is to make those who are less fortunate feel valued and, together, feel part of a big and happy society.
They offer meals everyday which takes a lot of preparing. To help with this process, since we were a big group, we were given the task to cut and peel vegetables for the meals the following day. We were able to quickly fill up 5 large containers of vegetables ready to be cooked and made into delicious meals! We were talking and laughing amongst each other the whole time which made the time fly by even faster than it already was!
The task we were given that day was completed behind the scenes, and being part of it made us realize how much there is to do where an extra pair of hands can help so much! If anyone is unable to financially donate to organizations, giving your time can be just as beneficial, if not more!
Our next amazing experience was at Myriam Home and Services. This organization ensures that persons with an intellectual disability will experience friendship, stability, will be cared for, and are treated with respect and dignity. At Myriam Home and Services, individuals are given the opportunity to make choices, learn skills, and have life-long opportunities for growth.
We were given free rein to create and organize an activity for adult men and women. We had a few good ideas in mind, when the simplest one finally came to us! We thought; “What does a medical clinic do best? Teach about health!” Dr. Oommen started it off by introducing the team and giving them an introduction to the topic of health and why it’s important. Our Nutritionist Stephanie spoke about healthy food choices and habits. She went on to explain portions by demonstrating with fake, plastic food to make it more visual! Then, to get them moving, our Athletic Therapist Rosemary animated a simple and fun stationary workout. We played lots of classic songs which really got them moving – some even dancing instead! Lastly, we had a multiple choice game of 10 fun fact health questions! We had an easel board with each page dedicated to the question and all 4 possible answers. Every individual participated, which was remarkable, and they had so much fun a participant even asked if we can play again! This was an educational and enjoyable experience for everyone!
Another volunteering opportunity was with Peace Initiatives Canada by taking part in handing out meals to the homeless around the downtown area. Peace Initiatives Canada is a progressive organization based on altruistic service to the community that promotes education and awareness of environmental issues. They take part in many activities in the city and offer services that help shape the community. This organization is extra special because of their founders. Imam Musabbir Alam, Father Steven Mackison and the very special Advisor and Partner of Peace Initiatives, Fatima Burke Mughal, demonstrate that it is possible to work together, form friendships and unite individuals from around the city regardless of Faith. They all shared with us that they came from humble beginnings and wanted to help those in need. The culture of this organization, and their fun-loving and caring personalities were quickly noticed.
As we arrived, Father Steven immediately took us all on a tour of the church where the event took place. He taught us things we had never known before about how churches are built and that behind almost every design is a meaning. This tour was very mind-opening and appreciated by all of us! After the tour, we got to enjoy a homemade delicious hot soup before going out to hand out meals ourselves. The man who was serving it to us was homeless himself and volunteers at the church as a cook.
Then was the time to finally go out and walk around the downtown area to hand out prepared healthy meals to the homeless. Many of them quietly accepted the food, while others were more talkative. A heart-warming moment was when we had asked a man how he was feeling today, and he replied saying “always good!” He was in a positive mood and spoke about his love for Montreal.
Giving them nutritious meals is so important to them and also made us all feel great at the end of the day.
We also got the chance to volunteer together to give back to the planet! We volunteered at Urban Seedling which is a Greenhouse. They not only grow their own garden, but bring their expertise to your home if you want to learn how to keep your plants and homegrown food growing throughout the seasons. They advocate for locally grown food because it contributes to a healthy lifestyle and a more sustainable community.
Once we arrived, we got a tour of the greenhouse which was a whole new experience for us. Jocelyn explained to us how every part of it works, about different types of plants, and about the different things the greenhouse does as well. She also gave us a tour of the garden and made us eat flowers and fresh tomatoes. The flowers were something completely new to us; surprisingly, they tasted as good as they looked! And of course, the tomatoes were delicious, just as expected!
Then it was time to get our hands dirty! We helped plant a bunch of different plants all over the garden, and cleaned the pods once we finished. Afterwards, she had time to teach us how to remove the seeds of sunflowers in order to replant them.
This experience allowed us to get out into nature and learn a lot about planting along the way!
We ended the year with us returning to MADA. We figured it would be a good place to end the year off, considering it was where it all started. This time, they had received a donation of pretzels that came in a huge box! We had to fill plastic bags and this was to be handed out during that week. This soon became a race between our team members and we had lots of fun! Once we finished, we counted 230 full bags of pretzels! We felt accomplished knowing that we did one last good deed as a team, which was a great way to end the year!
For the New Year, we urge you to give back to your community in any way you can. There is no donation of either money or time that is too big or too small! Some people can feel lonely throughout the year, so being part of a volunteering activity or donating to people and families in need can make you and others feel EXTRA good!
We hope these stories inspire you to get out there and get involved in your community! You may think that you are “just one person” or you have “just one hour” but no action is ever too small!
To answer the question of our title, the answer is yes. “If anyone ever tells you, There is nothing more we can do for your health, GIVE and your healing will continue.” – Dr. Oommen