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Opinion

Visiting with senior citizens a life-saver

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>A little coffee and catching up with someone in need turned out to be exactly what Kim Moujan needed to retake some control over her life.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A little coffee and catching up with someone in need turned out to be exactly what Kim Moujan needed to retake some control over her life.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/9/2017 (702 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If she wasn’t a volunteer, Kim Moujan said, she likely wouldn’t be alive.

After suffering a head injury and damage to the right side of her body in a car accident in 2012, Moujan was unable to work.

She had trouble recognizing people she had known for decades and couldn’t find the right words to use in conversation.

Moujan was isolated and suicidal.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/9/2017 (702 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If she wasn’t a volunteer, Kim Moujan said, she likely wouldn’t be alive.

After suffering a head injury and damage to the right side of her body in a car accident in 2012, Moujan was unable to work.

She had trouble recognizing people she had known for decades and couldn’t find the right words to use in conversation.

Moujan was isolated and suicidal.

When her psychologist suggested she start volunteering, Moujan applied at Age & Opportunity: Support Services for Older Adults.

For the past four years now, the 58-year-old has volunteered with A&O’s Connect program, which matches volunteer visitors with isolated older adults.

"Before I volunteered, I felt like I had no use left," Moujan said.

"When I started volunteering with A&O, I can honestly tell you this: it saved my life."

Every Tuesday, Moujan drives from her home in Starbuck to visit an elderly woman in Winnipeg.

They spend an hour or two together, eating lunch or drinking coffee and catching up on what’s going on in each other’s lives.

Moujan said after her accident it was difficult for some of the people around her — even close family members — to accept the limitations caused by her injuries.

That’s not the case with the people Moujan has visited through A&O.

"What I really enjoy about doing this is I can go out and be the person who I’ve become," she said.

"They like me and accept me and I feel so comfortable.

"I don’t look around to see if anyone’s laughing (at me).

"I just feel accepted."

Every day she volunteers is a highlight, Moujan said.

It helps her combat the social anxiety she developed after the accident, she said.

"When I go into a crowd or go into a place where I don’t know people, my body goes into fight-or-flight and the outcome can be so embarrassing," Moujan said

"So any time that I’m able to go in and enjoy someone’s company and they’re able to enjoy me, it’s a wonderful day."

Moujan is an amazing person, A&O’s manager of community services Michelle Ranville said.

"She’s overcome too much — and for her to be giving back to the community at the same time, it’s wonderful," Ranville said.

A&O is looking for more volunteers for its Connect program — particularly people who are available during the day.

The time commitment is usually one hour each week.

Applicants must have strong conversational and interpersonal skills.

Volunteers and clients are matched up based on similar interests.

Anyone interested can email info@aosupportservices.ca or phone 204-956-6440.

"The clients tell us they look forward to that visit all week — that it makes such a difference in their lives and that they’re grateful to have a volunteer visitor," Ranville said.

"It’s amazing what an impact volunteering one hour a week can have."

Moujan believes she receives much more from volunteering with A&O than she gives.

"I encourage people to do this, even if you think you can’t," she said.

"The rewards are unbelievable."

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

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History

Updated on Monday, September 18, 2017 at 8:05 AM CDT: Adds photo

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