February 27, 2021



Heart-to-heart volunteering – L’

Over 10,000 hours are volunteered each year at Maison Albatros. The palliative care establishment located in Trois-Rivières can count on the presence of more than a hundred volunteers, including that of Patricia Ouellet. The 26-year-old master’s student has been volunteering her time there for a year now.

A care volunteer, she supports residents and their families. “It’s a place where you have the time to take the time, to be attentive to others,” she says. I like the human relationship and its authenticity. At the end of their life, in particular, there is no time for masks and filters. It’s real, strong and rewarding to take the time with people. ”

“I had done a few small volunteering before, but this is my first experience of sustained volunteering,” she adds. When I started, I was struck to see all the staff working together, the attention paid to each other in all the little pampering, the warmth that emanates from them. It’s from heart to heart. ”

This is one of the reasons why she enjoys getting involved at the Maison so much. “I will always keep in mind this nurse whom I saw taking the time to properly place the lady’s jacket, to protect it with gentleness, love and tenderness. It’s so beautiful, what’s going on here, ”says Patricia.

As part of her involvement, the latter visits the House almost every week to offer her help to patients. “I support them in their daily life,” she explains. It could be, for example, to help them in their travels. I come to give, but when I leave, I always have the impression of having received too. ”

A marked interest

Patricia is obviously not the only one to share this feeling. The reputation of Maison Albatros is such that there is a waiting list for pre-volunteer training. “Generally, these are people who have accompanied a loved one and who want to give back because they know that it makes all the difference to be accompanied with gentleness in the last moments of their life,” indicates the general manager, Julie Colbert.

“It’s rather rare that we see young people like Patricia,” continues the latter. The average age is higher. But having young people like her is rich for the House. She will become a bit of a spokesperson for the House among her peers. I also think it is comforting and reassuring for employees, families and other volunteers to see this succession. ”

Volunteer involvement is the heart of Maison Albatros. It is at the origin of its creation and it is also essential to its survival. The place couldn’t exist without its volunteers. “Without them, we wouldn’t have the financial means to have all of this,” says Colbert. About 60% of our income comes from the State and the balance (40%) is donations from the community. If we also had 10,000 hours of work to pay, we wouldn’t be able to do it. We have volunteers at reception, care, in the kitchen, in the laundry room and for maintenance. Everyone makes a difference. ”

Seize the present moment

It was while working at Maison Albatros that Ms. Colbert understood what it means to enjoy the present moment. In office since April, this discovery made him grow on a personal level.

“Here, living in the present moment makes perfect sense,” she says. We hear it so often, but what does it mean? For me, these are the moments of sweetness, of communion between two people, to celebrate the present moment. All the little things in life become important. As easy as taking the time to make a meal for someone you love. Things that we thought were trivial are no longer. Everything becomes more beautiful. There are a lot of things that aren’t so stressful or so bad anymore. ”

She realizes that, deep down, the present moment is not complicated. And as part of her duties, she ensures that each person passing through Maison Albatros fully enjoys life’s little sweets.

“When you arrive here, you come to finish your road, so it’s the hunt for moments of sweetness. This is how I see it. It is an end-of-life house, but we celebrate life there. We want there to be joy, gentleness, peace and to recognize this life that has just passed. It is not a common job and it is not always easy emotionally, but it is a privilege to have this work ”, concludes Julie Colbert.