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Canmore Hospital volunteers, born nearly 98 years apart, celebrate birthdays together
Canmore Hospital volunteers Violet Bisbing, 2, and Helen Emery, 100, at their birthday celebration
Published Wednesday, March 14, 2018 6:07PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 15, 2018 10:41AM MDT
Staff at the Canmore Hospital gathered on Wednesday to celebrate the birthdays of two of the hospital’s volunteers who were born nearly a century apart.
Helen Emery, who has been a weekly fixture in the hospital’s gift shop for the last 10 years, turned 100 earlier this week and Violet Bisbing, who volunteers alongside her mom twice a month, celebrated her second birthday.
The pair of volunteers donned their tiaras and took their places as the guests of honour at a birthday celebration held at the hospital.
“You’re never too young or too old to be a volunteer,” said Barb Shellian, director of rural health. “We have someone who’s two years old who has been here since she was born and we’ve got someone who just finished her shift in the tuck shop and she had her 100th birthday two days ago.”
Rachel Gurney, Violet’s mother, has been bringing her daughter to spend time with the hospital’s long term care residents since Violet was only three months old.
“We read them books and just sort of sit with them and sometimes we sing songs,” explained Gurney. “The nice thing about is a lot of the patients here have memory issues so bring Violet in brings them back to when they had children and grandchildren themselves.”
“That’s really rewarding and really nice to kind of make that connection.”
The mother and daughter volunteers don their red vests twice a month, Violet’s cue that it’s time to visit the hospital. The young girl’s presence has had a lasting impact on some of the patients. “Last week she gave a resident a hug and she said it was the nicest hug she ever got. She started crying.”
Despite volunteering in the same hospital, Violet and Helen only recently met for the first time.
“Helen works in the gift shop and I’ve only met her briefly because we don’t volunteer in the same area,” said Gurney. “We did spend some time with her last month for the first time which was nice. She’s lovely.”
Pat Grayling has been volunteering at the hospital for nearly 26 years and she has high praise for Helen’s contributions.
“Helen has been volunteering for 10 years which is amazing. She only started volunteering when she was 90,” said Grayling. “She does her shift Wednesday mornings and she never fails. She’s totally reliable. Walks here and walks home and enjoys herself.”
The efforts of all of the hospital’s volunteers, including Helen and Violet, mean a great deal to Shelian and the hospital’s staff.
“We appreciate volunteers so much,” said Shelian. “We also appreciate the heart that they bring and the reason that they’re here is because they choose to be here, they choose to help us, they choose to support our services.”
With files from CTV's Kevin Fleming