In a year when we’ve all been denied many of life’s simple pleasures – hugs from loved ones, nights out with friends – there was one thing in particular that was missing for volunteer John Bannerman: the kids at the Children’s Cottage Crisis Nursery.
“I basically haven’t been able to volunteer since the pandemic started,” says John. “I’ve missed it, missed interacting with the kids.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Children’s Cottage Society had to send home its many volunteers who help out at the Crisis Nursery and Brenda’s House. Which means there were fewer hands making meals in the kitchen, sorting donations, assisting with programs or doing John’s job – entertaining the little ones at the nursery.
"We really try to help out with all kinds of tasks,” he says. “Interacting with the kids, playing with the kids… We feed the children, feed the babies. If a small child is crying we try to comfort them, play with them outside. I appreciate the opportunity to give back and give staff a bit of a break.”
Now, with Alberta’s Stage 3 reopening, we are slowly welcoming back our volunteers to the Crisis Nursery and Brenda’s House. On June 23, John signed in for his first shift at the Crisis Nursery in many months.
Volunteer Manager Paula Bannerman (no relation) says that each volunteer gets thorough health and safety protocol training before returning to the sites. She adds that many of them were able to continue helping the Children’s Cottage Society throughout the pandemic by picking up donations and by facilitating activities for the kids like crafts, music time and cooking classes virtually, through video calls.
Nonetheless, staffers at the Children’s Cottage are happy to see volunteers coming back in person.
“We are so excited to have our volunteers back,” says Paula. “It really helps staff to have them come in and provide much-needed support in various ways. They bring so much compassion and energy and new ideas. We have truly missed all our dedicated volunteers. Not all are quite ready to come back and that’s fine. We will welcome them with open arms when they are ready.”