Ashley Hiscox wasn’t about to let a broken wrist stop her from her volunteer work at The Salvation Army’s Toronto Grace Health Centre.

“Last year, I broke my wrist snowboarding and I was kind of upset because you can’t work with the patients unless you can properly was your hands and do things for them,” explains Ashley, 23, a Psychology student at the University of Toronto.

Michael Fliess, Director of Volunteer Services, arranged for her to volunteer with fundraising administrative activities until her wrist heeled and she could go back to working with patients in the Complex Continuing Care unit.

Ashley has been totally committed to her volunteer work at Grace since she saw a volunteer posting at the university career centre. She remembered the name because it brought back fond memories of trips with her grandfather to The Salvation Army store, where he was friends with everyone.

“The name had special meaning to me so I applied and when I did I just knew it was right,” says Ashley. “It was a really nice, welcoming environment. It just felt great to be there.” She volunteers four shifts a week during her summer holidays and once or twice a week during the school year.

Ashley’s work in the Complex Continuing Care unit involves a variety of tasks, including helping the nursing staff, visiting with patients and other duties which can be varied. “With one patient, who didn’t have the use of his hands, I would spend the last hour of my shift helping him with computer work. There are so many things you can get involved with; everybody’s different and has different needs,” she says.

Volunteering at Grace is particularly valuable for students like herself because Ashley feels it adds to the educational experience. “There is so much you can learn from different people. There are people with disabilities who have families, they’ve had occupations, you learn how to begin to understand people if you just open your eyes to what’s going on around you. That’s the reason why I try so hard to stay connected to the Grace because I don’t feel excluded or isolated when I go there.”

She adds that the experience is enhanced by the hospital’s family atmosphere. “The staff and the volunteers?everybody is just so friendly and welcoming and always smiling. It’s nice to come in to your shift.”

Volunteering at Grace has become a very important part of Ashley Hiscox’s life. “At the end of the day, there’s a warm feeling, a sense of accomplishment and, through the experience, a very strong feeling of personal growth,” says Ashley.

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