Marilyn Simmons: Cridge Transition House

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My volunteer experience in India while serving people in poverty has led me to the desire of serving my community here in Victoria. I believe volunteering is the opportunity to give and help create community, especially for people living in difficult circumstances. I want these people to know that they are seen and cared for. I love celebrating peoples’ courage, resilience and success.

I was looking for another volunteer opportunity after the lockdowns and came across the Cridge Transition House in a Times-Colonist ad looking for volunteers. This ad jumped out at me, and I knew right then that this was the place I wanted to volunteer. I have worked with children previously in other capacities. For as long as I can remember, I had compassion for women and children living in difficult situations. My time in India included working with teams to support children living in extreme poverty.

I have many memorable experiences that keep me motivated to volunteer like the delight and joyful smiles when the children see me come through the door. I was doing crafts with a sister and brother and one looked up at me and said, “I know what, you are our grandma.” Another time I was working with two non-verbal young siblings and upon greeting them, one of them responded to me with a clear spoken, “hi.” This was the first spoken word by this young child. One more experience that really touched me was when a little girl, who had only met me once before, saw me and her eyes lit up. She said, “You’re here again” then ran into my arms.

For me, it’s all about the connection, it’s seeing the hope return to women and children. I see it in their eyes and their confidence seems to return within their new and safe environment. I also enjoy working closely with the staff who are incredible and supportive of the volunteers.

If I could offer some advice to volunteers, first choose something you love and have passion for.

My recommendation is to evaluate the skills and experiences you have developed over the years. Using your time wisely and putting it to good use will benefit both yourself and the organization. You are there to serve both the organizational needs and work well with staff and other volunteers.

Giving to those who cannot give back is very freeing. It takes the focus off our own needs and puts it on others. Enjoy fun and laughter as part of a team. Volunteering can provide a real community and sense of belonging and in the process good friends are made.

Learn more about volunteering at Cridge at cridge.org.