The next best thing to being in your home is to be at Canterbury. I’m loving it. When I was unable to be in my own home if was wonderful to be able to move to Canterbury!
- Canterbury Resident
Kind Hearted Valued Volunteer Helps Residents Feel at Home
It all started with a friendly game of cribbage. A few years ago retired business owner Gordon Duckering used to visit a special friend every week who lived at Canterbury. The resident was reluctant to come out to social gatherings, but enjoyed playing crib, so that’s what they did and built a strong connection. After his friend moved on to another facility, Gordon felt called to do more at the place he had grown to love. Eventually he approached the staff last summer and they recognized his unique attributes that fit the core of Canterbury volunteers.
“Gordon is very compassionate, he has the temperament and passion for working with seniors,” says Mbalia Kamara, Recreation Supervisor at Canterbury Foundation. “When you see him walk by, there is that feeling of calm, that in the moment your with him, ‘I feel safe’ - that is a vital emotion for seniors to have.”
Gordon was connected with some important volunteer tasks.
“There’s a fellow in the dementia ward, he was having trouble settling in, so I spent some time with him,” the soft spoken Gordon explains. He was able to provide one-on-one time with the gentleman and talked with him. Gordon was a positive male role model to connect with, and the experience provided emotional support and a social outlet that enabled the resident to be more open with other staff as well.
“I have a personality people feel comfortable with and a gentle spirit they accept,” says Gordon.
Gordon also visits other long term care dementia residents at Canterbury Lane and helps out with a special church service on that floor. In addition, the busy volunteer spends time at Canterbury Court’s Chapel, where he leads Bible study on Tuesdays, and assists once or twice a month at chapel services.
“My main jobs there are handing out books and parking the walkers I guess,” says Gordon with a smile.
Gordon’s efforts are appreciated and extend much further. For the worship service, he gathers people to come to the chapel, going back to the rooms for those who may have forgotten.
“Gordon’s cordial help and small personal gestures make a big impact on residents and service providers alike,” says Reverend Joanne Webster, Chaplain at Canterbury Foundation. “Gordon was an angel that dropped out of the sky. I saw his gifts and presence; he is kind and sensitive and over time we invited him to do more and more.”
Leading the Bible study and assisting Reverend Webster has helped her immensely “because I’m new in defining the role and all of my time has been devoted to the program, he has been able to help out leading some services at times. It enriches the things we do together, and it allows me more time to tend to duties and interact with residents.” She adds, “God calls all of us as Christians to build up his Kingdom. We are very grateful for Gordon’s gifts to us.”
Gordon typically drops in to Canterbury two or three times a week for at least an hour and a half at a time. The retired truck company owner is fully committed to his volunteer work, driving in all the way from Stony Plain to see his Canterbury friends. A man of faith, his quiet spirit shines through and his friendly nature comes easy to him. He is happy to have purpose in this stage of life. “It feels rewarding to me, and I am happy to make other people feel better about themselves.”
“Oh, he is the most interesting person,” says Bess Kostynuk a long time resident of Canterbury. “He is religious, but doesn’t push it on anyone,” she adds. “I feel welcome if he’s at chapel and he doesn’t mind if there’s not a lot of people that particular day – we end up sitting and talking for half an hour.” It’s the general visiting with him that leaves a lasting impression with the guests. “He’s very kind, he always has a smile on his face, telling you something funny.”
It isn’t always easy building up trust in the residents, but Gordon has patience and understanding. He recalls another lady’s reaction to the musical church service at the Canterbury Lane wing that cares for dementia patients. “At first she said, “What a waste of time” but you know she enjoys it now - and remembers the songs. Music stays with them the longest, and they really do like it.”
Over the months his interactions have helped him learn and grow into an experienced volunteer. While he may be playing fewer crib games these days, Gordon always enjoys a walk, talk or thankful hug from residents who just love simple company. “Some people you can sense are in need of attention, other seniors you see they want to be left alone. “ He adds, “I’ve seen changes when I first starting coming, it only takes a minute or two talking with them and over time their confidence lifts and they warm up.”
Gordon is a valued volunteer who makes Canterbury’s residents feel special, safe and at home. Says Mbalia, “Gordon has made a tremendous impact on our residents. As staff we understand this is the type of person we want to bring into our community – he has the core values of respect, dignity, compassion and his care is effortless, whether you see him in action or passing. It’s really wonderful that volunteers like Gordon can share their time and do things for our residents that they are truly passionate about.”
Thank you Gordon for all you do at Canterbury.