My name is Darya and I work for South Vancouver Neighbourhood House (SVNH), particularly for one of its Adult Day Care Centres – Beulah Gardens ADP. I was at the end of my probation period when the pandemic started, so the position felt new all over again.
A couple weeks after the big lockdown, I got an email from a SVNH colleague requesting a volunteer who speaks Russian. She explained there was a Russian lady (EV) who lived in the area serviced by SVNH, however, she didn’t speak English and needed a translator. One call grew into one year. It turned out EV has been in Canada for years, but never learnt the language. She had a daughter who struggled with her own health issues and wasn’t able to assist her.
Since no one could leave their apartments, it was concerning how EV would access her groceries and other essentials. We helped her once with groceries, but she started refusing the help since. Every week we spoke on the phone, sometimes only a minute or two and other times longer. It was challenging trying to get acquainted over the phone, without knowing much about each other and never meeting each other in person.
There were months when EV didn’t want to chat at all, forgetting what organization we work for and why we were calling her. After about 10 months of this dance, she suddenly asked for help. First, with getting a ride to the vaccination clinic, and once that worked, she asked for help again, with filing her taxes. After developing this trust, EV was ready to share her own story and even expressed interest in meeting me in person once the restrictions eased. It took one call, one call that grew into trust, connection and friendship.
Thank you for sharing your Neighbourhood House Story, Darya and EV! To learn more about the House visit them online at www.southvan.org or on Facebook. And as always, if this story inspires, moves and excites you, please share it with your friends and neighbours!