Volunteer Spotlight: Leigh-Ann

We are excited to introduce a new volunteer team in this month's Volunteer Spotlight!

This team will bring Pet Therapy to Ty Watson House, and we couldn't be happier to introduce them. The Pet Therapy team is a volunteer named Leigh-Ann and her therapy dog Penny.

We got to sit down with Leigh-Ann at Ty Watson House following her first Pet Therapy appointment in the house. Leigh-Ann said her first impression was that the house was warm, welcoming, and a beautiful facility that makes you feel right at home. "It is very apparent that the resident's care and well-being are at the front of everything they do. It takes more work and extra effort but makes all the difference."

Leigh-Ann spoke of Penny and how she was born to connect with people. "Penny is drawn to being in a nurturing role. She is always up for a snuggle, nap, and some kisses for those in need of her love." It is apparent to us that Penny has a lot of love to give to our community. As for Leigh-Ann, you can find her out in the community volunteering if she isn't outside hiking or enjoying outside activities. Leigh-Ann's main hobby is volunteering, saying, "I believe in the power of kindness. I am always excited for the opportunity to support the community and show everyone the power of animals."

When asked what motivates Leigh-Ann and Penny to stay involved, Leigh-Ann said, "I have a history of volunteering with other communities. I reached out to Hospice when I moved to town and fell in love with the organization. I strongly believe in dignity and quality of life, especially at the stage of someone's life. I always hope to provide companionship and connection."

Leigh-Ann spoke of what motivates her to continue volunteering, especially in a hospice setting. "Meeting residents is so inspiring. Hearing their life stories and their wisdom is so rewarding." Coming from Burnaby Hospice and having a lot of experience in hospice care has given Leigh-Ann valuable insight into the importance of hospice facilities. Leigh-Ann had this to say about the significance of Ty Watson House, "I think the most important part is the compassion for the residents, families, caregivers, staff, and volunteers. Compassion for their unique experience and to provide support for them through their journey and to be present. One act of kindness or warm interaction can last a lifetime."

Leigh-Ann spoke of what she has learned while volunteering in the hospice industry, "It has deepened my understanding of the various things people go through at the end of life or when they are grieving. It means different things to different people. As a support person, acknowledging their differences and being present are important. One of the biggest surprises I have encountered is realizing that this stage is not very different from other stages in life. People still need the opportunity to connect and reflect. It isn't necessarily how I originally perceived this stage to be. There are still ups and downs, but we can still find joyous moments and adjust to challenging times."

When asked what she would say to those thinking of volunteering with Hospice, Leigh-Ann said, "I would highly recommend exploring this opportunity. Ty Watson House is such a gift and offers compassion to the community. It is extremely rewarding to experience that type of connection. Not to mention how beautiful and welcoming the house and team is from the kitchen staff, Community Office staff, nursing staff, and everyone in between. It is so wonderful to be a part of it all.

Leigh-Ann feels honored to be a part of the team, and we are beyond grateful to have her and Penny joining us. Legh-Ann ended with, "We look forward to meeting the residents, families, and caregivers."

Leigh-Ann and Penny's Pet Therapy services are currently available to residents and their loved ones at Ty Watson House. If you are interested in making an appointment, please reach out to the Community Office at (250) 723-4478.

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