Volunteering and working at Capital Health

Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 12:10pm

By Stephanie McCarville
Five years ago, I was diagnosed with two autoimmune conditions. After a difficult few years of tests, hospital admissions, medications and surgeries, I found myself back on a  a stable path; my new normal. 
I was feeling well and started working for Capital Health full time as a physiotherapist. However, living with these chronic diseases, I still have to work hard to maintain my health, especially when unexpected issues and challenges come up. 
I soon heard of a volunteer program at Capital Health called Your Way to Wellness: a free six-week program offered by people with chronic diseases for people with chronic diseases. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity because I wanted to give back, share my experiences and promote the importance of healthy living, and also learn from others with chronic diseases. I completed the training to become a volunteer leader and now facilicate several sessions per year. 

I certainly love my fulltime job with Capital Health and my role as a physiotherapist, but volunteering with the Your Way to Wellness program gives me a whole other level of joy and satisfaction. I check my physio degree at the door when I’m co-facilitating a session. I’m there as Stephanie, a woman living with a chronic disease who wants the most out of life. 
We follow a curriculum from Stanford University and teach skills for self-management. I believe whole heartedly in this program, as it aligns with my personal philosophy of wellness, promoting a healthy lifestyle and setting small goals every week to achieve. This helps keep me on track with my own healthy eating, to stay physically active and manage stress.

I’ve made incredible connections with others through this program despite all of us having very different conditions. I’ve heard and shared real life experiences of the challenges of living with a chronic disease. I look forward to every week. 
I am constantly overwhelmed by some of the amazing participants who have such a positive attitude, despite the enormous barriers they have overcome. I feel so proud to watch a person set a goal and when we check back the following week and they report that they’ve achieved it - big or small - we celebrate the success. 

Volunteering with Capital Health feels like valuable work. It makes my day to know I helped make a difference in the life of someone living with similar challenges as myself. There is always a part of me that’s sad at the end of the six weeks of sessions, but I’m always so confident that the participants will continue on with the progress they’ve made. 
I truly believe volunteering is a win-win situation for everyone involved. I’ve made some great friends, feel more confident in my own coping skills and most importantly, love every moment I get to share the importance of living a healthy life.

Visit the Your Way to Wellness site to learn more about participating in, or volunteering in, programs.