October 15, 2019

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Extra! Extra! Read all about... volunteers' big role at St. Boniface Hospital

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/10/2018 (375 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Gerry Noonan never had a paper route when he was growing up, but he has one now that he’s retired.

Every Tuesday morning, the 69-year-old volunteers at St. Boniface Hospital, delivering between 120 and 180 copies of the Winnipeg Free Press to patients.

It’s not a big time commitment — no more than a couple of hours — but it requires about five kilometres of walking, or at least that's what an app on his smartphone tells him.

“I don’t put in (a lot of) time, but I do put in the distance,” Noonan says.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/10/2018 (375 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Gerry Noonan never had a paper route when he was growing up, but he has one now that he’s retired.

Every Tuesday morning, the 69-year-old volunteers at St. Boniface Hospital, delivering between 120 and 180 copies of the Winnipeg Free Press to patients.

“I don’t put in (a lot of) time, but I do put in the distance,” says Gerry Noonan (left), who, like Theo Brudney (right), volunteers to deliver the Winnipeg Free Press at the St. Boniface Hospital. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

“I don’t put in (a lot of) time, but I do put in the distance,” says Gerry Noonan (left), who, like Theo Brudney (right), volunteers to deliver the Winnipeg Free Press at the St. Boniface Hospital. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

It’s not a big time commitment — no more than a couple of hours — but it requires about five kilometres of walking, or at least that's what an app on his smartphone tells him.

"I don’t put in (a lot of) time, but I do put in the distance," Noonan says.

"I remember when I was a patient and how much I appreciated someone coming in with a newspaper in the morning. The days are long, and it's nice to have a newspaper."-Gerry Noonan

Theo Brudney delivers the paper on Wednesday mornings. The 17 year old finds it satisfying to brighten a patient’s day through such a simple act.

"I like seeing how the patients appreciate the newspapers," says Brudney, whose father is a doctor and administrator at St. B.

The teen, who was born in England and raised in Raleigh, N.C., has an impressive history of service, having previously volunteered three days a week to coach a 10-year-old soccer team.

After he and his family moved to Winnipeg three years ago, he wanted to find another volunteer gig. Getting involved at the hospital was a natural fit; when he turned 16 — the minimum-age requirement for volunteers at St. Boniface — he signed up.

"I just feel pretty fortunate, and I want to help the less fortunate by giving out my time to give back to the community," says the Grade 11 student at St. John’s Ravenscourt School.

Of note, and particularly timely given that National Newspaper Week will wrap up this weekend, Brudney says even though most patients have access to electronic devices that they can use to read the news, there is still a demand for the print edition.

The demand is so great that sometimes there aren’t enough copies to go around, he says.

Noonan experienced first-hand the difference that thoughtful volunteers and a good newspaper can make when he was admitted to St. Boniface in 2011 for surgery.

"I remember when I was a patient and how much I appreciated someone coming in with a newspaper in the morning," he says. "The days are long, and it’s nice to have a newspaper."

Gerry Noonan (left) and Theo Brudney deliver the Winnipeg Free Press to patients at St. Boniface Hospital. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Gerry Noonan (left) and Theo Brudney deliver the Winnipeg Free Press to patients at St. Boniface Hospital. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

The care Noonan received from hospital staff and volunteers inspired him to start volunteering there two years later.

The hospital relies on more than 350 people who donate their time, says Jennifer Cawson, manager of volunteer services.

"Our volunteers bring so much energy and so much compassion to enhancing the daily lives of our patients," she says. "We’re very fortunate to have the contributions that volunteers do make."

The hospital is currently looking for more volunteers, and has a particular need for people in its NICU Veteran Parent program, which matches adult volunteers whose children have previously stayed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with parents whose infants are currently there.

The volunteers provide informal support and guidance.

Cawson also needs volunteers to serve as retail clerks in the gift shop.

Anyone interested in these or other volunteer opportunities at the hospital can visit thier website.

"We have volunteers that are 16 years old, all the way up to in their 90s," Cawson says. "Each of them adds their own special touch to each volunteer role."

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.

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History

Updated on Friday, October 5, 2018 at 12:29 PM CDT: Minor copy fixes

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