Volunteer work during pandemic becomes ‘money liner’ for Newmarket resident


Shine Through the Rain Foundation Not only Helped University Student Learn “Compassion and Understanding,” but also gave her a new career focus.

The impact of the pandemic has been negative for the most part, but for Ella Eum, 20, a Newmarket resident, it provided invaluable experience, the outcome of which shaped her mindset and career goals.

Eum volunteers with the Newmarket-based Shine Through the Rain Foundation, a charity that provides advice, support, and financial assistance to people who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

She started working there in May 2020, shortly after the start of the pandemic.

What started out as a summer experience turned out to be a lesson in personal growth for Eum.

“It definitely taught me to look outside of myself and stop thinking about myself as an individual.”

Eum’s responsibilities included listening to voicemail messages and reading emails left by social workers and patients seeking to determine their eligibility for help.

Hearing patients try to explain their situation, she could tell, Eum said, that they just wanted “someone to hear them.”

When the foundation moved to an online application process the following spring, Eum was given the added responsibility of reviewing and approving applications and helping case workers and patients navigate the new system. online application.

One of the most devastating effects of the pandemic, she said, was hearing stories from “heartbroken” people who wanted to help loved ones they couldn’t visit at home. ‘hospital.

“It was really heartbreaking to hear because not only were their loved ones sick and sick, but they couldn’t see them either. And it was kind of like a desperate call coming to me.”

The circumstance that led to Eum’s involvement in the foundation was strictly a consequence of the pandemic, but working there taught her to have “compassion and understanding” and she wouldn’t change that for anything at all. world.

“Nonprofits, charities, and helping patients with problems was not something I ever considered, but it was a silver lining that I found this place because that I have never looked towards this area of ​​work. I think without the pandemic and trying to look so hard, I wouldn’t have found this place. “

When she entered college in 2019, Eum was planning to secure a volunteer or internship position over the summer vacation, but when the pandemic struck and businesses began to shut down, she feared she might not. find nothing.

“I was really scared that I would be kicked out from home school with no job opportunities, no internship opportunities, no volunteer opportunities because no one was really looking and we were all kind of sent home without knowing what to do for the summer. And it was a little scary because it was my freshman year of college and I didn’t really know what to expect. “

Eum came across the foundation job looking for volunteers. With just two permanent staff members, the foundation’s office remained open throughout the pandemic, which Eum said she was happy about.

“In an age of social distancing and not being able to see people, it was really nice to walk into a physical office and talk to at least one other person besides my family.”

Shine Through the Rain is based in Newmarket but has a national reach. It is funded by grants, donations and fundraising.

The number of people served by the foundation varies from month to month, according to Laurie Docimo, sponsorships and grants.

“This year, we have helped over 1,000 people. We also help across Canada, but because we are local in Newmarket and only have one office, most of the people we help are in the area.

The foundation’s social programs include a pediatric Christmas party, a camp scholarship that sends children under the age of 18 to camp, and Rainy Day Gifts, a hand-wrapped gift package to comfort a child struggling with illness.

The Rainy Day Fund is a monthly financial program intended to help those facing loss of income or financially damaging increase in expenses due to illness.

The program provides emergency payments directly to utility companies and homeowners for overdue bills and rents, and helps cover grocery and transportation costs.

Expenses may include drugs taken outside of the hospital – which are not covered by OHIP – to park in the hospital or travel associated with an outside hospital from a patient’s municipality.

“What most people don’t realize or stop to think about, and patients tend to be embarrassed to talk about their financial situation, but often people are too sick to work. is their child, at least one parent takes time off work to be with them, “Docimo said.” Whether survivable or terminally ill they are all affected and we try to help as much as we can. “

Eum plans to return to the foundation this summer and is grateful, she said, to work in an office where she has the opportunity to learn from the staff and spend one-on-one time with them. She is also grateful to learn from people who share their stories with her.

“It really taught me to be empathetic and to understand different situations and needs. Most of us can say that you are really privileged not to be these people, but it was really cool d ‘trying to figure out what they are. go through and read their stories and a lot of them just needed someone to do that and I was really grateful to be that person. “

Eum is in her third year at Western University, studying Political Science and Philosophy. Since working at the Shine Through the Rain Foundation, her perspective has changed, she said.

She took a closer look at federal and provincial health policies and brings this new perspective to class discussions.

Eum plans to pursue a law degree, but due to her experience with the foundation, she decided to turn to advocacy work, something she said she would never have considered before.

“I don’t think I’ve had that perspective before. I don’t think if it was for Shine Through the Rain I would have the same thought process that I would like to engage in advocacy, but I think after does volunteer work and after working there I really want to make that a part of life. “

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