Volunteer Success Stories
A Volunteer Success Story - submitted by Tracy Pingle
A couple of years ago, I was in the fortunate position of having time available to serve as a volunteer. I approached Community Living Burlington and Chrissy Lilly connected me with Jody, a boundlessly cheerful woman with a great smile. Initially, Jody and I hung out together at Life Skills working on puzzles and computer games, but we discovered we were kindred spirits in that we did not enjoy sitting around, but preferred to be up and about exploring the world.
Since the Life Skills building is close to the Burlington Animal Shelter, we began to walk there once a week to visit with some of the animals. We enjoyed many sessions of petting and playing with cats and dogs and through several comical incidents with the animals (including one in which a hyperactive young kitten kept running up and over Jody), I discovered Jody has a wicked sense of humour.
Our mutual restlessness set in again and I was given permission to drive Jody in my van so that we could further expand our horizons. We discovered that we both enjoy hiking and Bronte Creek Provincial Park has become our preferred place to hike. I have always felt a sense of calm, wonder and serenity when I walk its many trails and Jody seems to share these feelings. Entering a forest trail with a leafy canopy high overhead, birds chirping nearby and shafts of sun lighting our way, we both quiet down and begin to take in all that is around us. Jody is a keen observer of nature. I will point things out to her once – the feel of tree bark, a caterpillar crossing our path, the seed pods that explode when you touch them – and she will remember and respond the next time she sees them. We have been hiking the park for close to two years now in all but the worst winter weather and enjoy our observations of the seasons’ changes. We delight in the soft green of the budding leaves, the smell of the flowers, the sound of walking through crunchy leaves. It is a learning experience to watch the changes that take place in the old orchards that dot the park. We’ve grown fond of one old apple tree in particular that we’ve dubbed the Snow Queen (in homage to Anne of Green Gables). Close enough to the path for Jody to smell and touch, we’ve watched the sweetly-scented apple blossoms grow and ripen into rosy red apples. I have seen deer many times at the park when I have been hiking alone and it is a special thrill to spot these shy and graceful animals. I was determined to share a deer-sighting with Jody, and warned her whenever we got near a known deer spot to be very, very quiet. She would become extra alert and her eyes would dart all over. I suspect the noise of the wheelchair gave us away and it seemed we would never spot our quarry. Continued