By Kristy Inouye
I spoke to TLP volunteer Yolande Gaymes to ask about her life and what brought her to TLP. When I asked Yolande what’s important to her, she said, “Taking care of people. Making sure they’re okay. Whether that okay means they need a bottle of water, or help up the stairs, or they need directions.”
As a child, Yolande learned about the value of caring for others through her mother, who worked in a hospital and as a private caregiver. Sometimes, Yolande went with her mother to work: “She was very interactive with all of the patients… sitting and talking to them or reading; just there, taking in the fact that there are so many people who are in the hospital that don’t have anyone to come and say hello.” Yolande was struck by the impact of daily interactions that we often take for granted, and reflected on what a day-in-the-life might be like for those experiencing significant health challenges. “Now every time I go to the hospital, I want to know ‘How are they doing?’”
Being a volunteer is one of many roles that Yolande plays in her own life. She is a mother, a demo make-up artist, a mobile nail technician, and a children’s hair stylist. On top of that, she works fulltime as a longshoreman, and participates in various other volunteer opportunities whenever possible.
“I like volunteering,” she says. At the same time, Yolande acknowledges that “it’s not easy to be in a hospice,” and recognizes that volunteering with TLP might involve stepping outside one’s comfort zone. She suggests that anyone thinking about volunteering, or curious about TLP, could shadow volunteers to better understand what the organization does.
Yolande recalls how she felt when she first found out about TLP: “I just thought it was awesome, that they go to hospices and treat clients to a day of pampering. I was thrilled to hear about this.”
Yolande volunteers with TLP as a Team Lead at the Ronald McDonald House in Surrey. She enjoys being able to connect with others and help offer “that comfort, that care, that time” that she had come to appreciate as a child. Sometimes she brings her own daughters, who are 9 and 11 years old. “They’re always interested in what I’m doing, so I have brought them there to see. If they could go every time I had to go to Ronald McDonald House, they would go.”
She reflects on how such opportunities have made her daughters “more observant” and “more appreciative,” and shaped their own understanding of how to help others, and respect other perspectives.