Like clockwork, every Wednesday for the past 45 years Jo Macdonald has been volunteering at Vancouver General Hospital.
“It’s just something that I’ve always done,” says Jo. “I’ve always wanted to serve and give back.”
And give she has. Jo is 95 years old, sharp and one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. Growing up in Saskatchewan, she moved to Vancouver when she was 18 years old. The Depression hit many rural families hard and Vancouver offered plenty of work, especially in the midst of the Second World War.
It was here that she settled, started a family and made a life for herself. Keeping very busy raising two boys, Jo always wanted to give back. And as soon as her boys were older and she had some time of her own, she immediately started volunteering within the community, including at VGH.
“I think that my desire to give back all comes from my mom, she was always helping people,” says Jo. “People always came to her and she would gladly help with no expectations of getting anything in return. I admired that about her and I saw how wonderful that was.”
Throughout Jo’s time volunteering at VGH she has worked in many different departments, including Outpatient Care and Emergency. But it is in Palliative Care — where she has worked for the past eight years — where she has found the most joy.
“When families come in and I ask, is there anything I can do for you? And they say, I just need a hug, that is special,” says Jo. “The most rewarding thing I can provide people in a difficult time is some sort of comfort. Seeing what some people have to go through in life helps me keep perspective. And I find it very fulfilling to help someone even in a little way.”
Here at VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, we think you are pretty special Jo. Thank you. And thanks to all of volunteers who enable VGH and UBC Hospital to provide the best care for all British Columbians.