50 years later, this North York volunteer continues to give back

50 years later, this North York volunteer continues to give back

Linda Carney is happy when Anne Grant is around.

For 30 years, Carney has seen Grant volunteering in the halls of Thompson House, a long-term care home for seniors in North York’s Don Mills neighbourhood.

Long-term care facility Thompson House volunteer Anne Grant greets resident Jean Cuthbert.
Long-term care facility Thompson House volunteer Anne Grant greets resident Jean Cuthbert.  (Justin Greaves/Metroland)

Grant and the home share something in common this year: Thompson House is celebrating 50 years — and so is Grant as she’s been volunteering there since the doors first opened.

“She is a very caring person,” said Carney, 75, a Thompson House resident. “She is always willing to help people.”

Grant, 84, who lives in North York, was part of a volunteer group with her church when she first started volunteering at the home.

The church was asking for people to volunteer, Grant said, and it was not an unusual request for her since she volunteered elsewhere before.

“I was there the day they dug the earth to build this property,” she said. “Our church formed a volunteer group before it was built and so did other churches in the community, and when it opened, I was here the first day.”

Grant held many roles over her five decades at the home. She was the auxiliary treasurer, wrote the monthly newsletter and ran the gift shop. She also took part in monthly socials, afternoon teas, square dancing and fundraising events such as bake sales, raffles and treasure sales.

When she wasn’t volunteering, Grant worked at a bank. She retired at 70.

For five of those 50 years, Grant visited residents in hospitals. She also took them to doctor’s appointments and shopping.

Carney once had to go to an appointment so doctors could remove a benign tumour she had and Grant stayed with her “the whole time.”

“She was scared (for me),” Carney said. “She’s a very caring person.”

Today, Grant volunteers each week at the home and mentors other volunteers.

“I guess I fell in love with the people, the staff and what they have become in 50 years,” she said. “It’s just a great thrill and joy.”

According to Volunteer Toronto, a volunteer organization, 40 per cent of Toronto’s 13,000 non-profits and charities don’t have paid staff and rely completely on volunteers.

Jackie Miller, program manager at Thompson House, said all of the staff appreciates Grant’s help.

“She’s got a very kind heart and (has been) devoted to the residents for all of those 50 years,” she said. “She’s a leader and she’s taken on a leadership role in many of the programs that she was part of over the years, as well as leading the horse racing program she does currently, and mentors the student volunteers.”

For Grant, she said volunteering gets you more than you give and is encouraging more people to do it.

“When you leave, you feel very uplifted,” she said. “You go and you think you haven’t wasted a morning even if it wasn’t all pleasant, it was still wonderful.”

Aaron D’Andrea is a reporter with toronto.com. Email: adandrea@toronto.com

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