Volunteer Spotlight: Tricia Monahan
I work as a nurse with adults with disabilities, and volunteer at an amazing animal sanctuary farm with the same vision, acceptance.
One hug from Louise the Magnificent Rooster and I was sold. A year and a half now, each week we share our time. I feel it is important to show my daughter the value of hard work and helping others. We might all be different, but we all need to be loved and cared for. When I arrive at Kindred each week, that it is my Zen time. My special time of the week to be in a completely different place. Away from the chaos of the world and especially my workplace during Covid-19. The moments of connection with the animals, the fresh air, the slower pace. Focusing on my breath and how my energy is picked up by the animals. I feel on safe soil. I feel valued and appreciated. It fills my cup. I am truly grateful each week. I feel I get more than I give.
I was born in Vancouver. My father passed away when I was 6 years old. My mother, sister and I became like the three musketeers! My grandmother, mother and aunt were all nurses so I think it was ingrained in me to be a nurse, a giver. Mom was very strong, she had to do things that were out of her comfort zone. I watched her be very brave.
When I got older all I wanted was a child of my own. This took a while. At this point I was working as a Care Aid but prior to having Emlyn I decided to get my nursing licence. Eventually my husband and I had our daughter Emlyn, who is our miracle. She is an “only” and is now 8. I am an older mom at 45!
I work in a long term care residence with adults who have disabilities. These range from M.S. to Parkinson’s to people who have had a stroke. They have mobility issues as well as being in somewhat fragile health. Right now the residents are between the ages of 30 to 70. Since we went into lockdown our staff is down to half of its normal size.
I have been working part time for a number of years. We now have a number of casuals, one of them is not a cook but she has taken over the cooking because we normally only have one cook and he can’t be there everyday. So we have all had to switch our hats a little bit. I have seen a definite increase in the amount of stress. We are having to work twice as hard and we are mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted at the end of our shift.
We are so diligent about keeping the virus out of our facility because once it comes everyone is going to have it. We are very serious. A few of those people I have worked with for 20 years and it’s like, I’m not going to put you at risk and you’re not going to put me at risk. We are going to be safe providing the best care that we possibly can. We are also spending more time with the individual residents because they are isolated from their families.
I have people who cant go out and are really missing their families. So I try to let them talk and I just listen. I give them as much support as I can. A few can be “negative Nellie’s” but for the most part they can see the sunny spots.
I have always been part time since I had Emlyn, so when I come to the care home I think people perk up. I can still have some energy for them. I think if I was there full time I wouldn’t have that. I am always a very grateful, happy and loyal person and I am happy to share that positive energy.
Emlyn loved to be in the community and giving back and that’s what sparked in me that I needed to find something where she could come with me and we could do it together. When she was in grade 1 there was a family in Emlyn’s class that volunteered at Kindred Farm already. This was Karen Droege and Avery and they were so excited about the farm so we decided to check it out!
I never grew up on a farm and knew nothing about farm animals except that I loved them and Emlyn loved them. She’s a bird nerd, she was thrilled about the animals and this was her perfect world. So when I found this place to go with my daughter and spend time with the animals rescued from difficult lives and now living in their forever home, I said, this is it! This is what I have been looking for!
We came on the Monday shift and met the Wilson family, Leah, Mateo and Olivia. They trained us and it was just remarkable. Emlyn really formed a bond with those children.
They became like family to us. There were other volunteers who came when we were there, like Matthew and Jill. They would speak to my daughter like she was a very important person. They would give her a job to do and she didn’t need to be by my side. Like Keryn would say, “Emlyn, I’ve got some really important work to do, could you help me.” They could see that little spark that was needed for my daughter to gain confidence. That was how she could take on a task and leave my side. She knew that she could do these things. She didn’t need to be scared.
As I am there I am falling in love with each of these animals and I am learning things like haltering the horses, which honestly scared me. We were getting so much more then we were giving. I always feel like we can’t give back as much as the other volunteers because there are these little people that keep interrupting and needing direction. So when Leah came and we had 3 kids amongst us, our shifts were like mom and dad. One of us would keep the kids busy and the other would go out and tend to the cows. As time went along the Wilsons were unable to come and we started to get into the rainy, darker, freezing weather. However we talked about how it is very important to help our friends even when it is difficult and sometimes uncomfortable.
Before Covid19 so much money was put into things like sporting and celebrity events. Now the focus has switched gears to appreciating front line workers, teachers, health care workers and so many more.
These days of we are spending more time focusing on what is truly important and what we truly need to survive.
I want to say “Thank you Pharmacies, thank you Grocery Clerks, thank you First Responders and thank YOU to everyone who is staying home. It relieves the emergency rooms and the hospital visits and leaves the beds for people that really need them.” I don’t even have the words to describe just how humbled I am. I just see these images of heroes and kindness being shown around the world.
We are all in this together!
I do have some thoughts about how things might be afterwards.
I think that in the future a lot more funding will be put into Health Care and Education. I think people will have spent some time on their own and may be thinking about prioritizing what’s really important. I think there’s going to be some negative changes but I think there will also be some positive. I wonder if people are going to be more thoughtful about how they live their life?
I think we may be realizing that the world is bigger than our backyard, in fact, our world has become our backyard.
Tricia Monahan interview by Terry Pratt