VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

Hugh Furneaux

For the past 3 years Hugh Furneaux has been an exemplary volunteer with Christie Gardens. Originally visiting Christie Gardens to spend time with his much-loved Aunt Alice Moulton, one day Hugh noticed a sign posted on the bulletin board looking for volunteer pianists. As Hugh had been trying to figure out what to do with his talent for playing the piano, he thought why not use his skill to help others?

Hugh has always been a real believer in giving back to the community. Hugh grew up in Markham, Ontario in the 1950's and was raised in a household where being involved in the community was just second nature. Hugh's father was a Lion's Club member and his mother contributed to the Cancer Society and the town library. Serving the community was 'just something that you did', in Hugh's family household.

Now Hugh leads a very popular piano program regularly featured on the Christie Gardens calendar. Once a week Hugh plays to two different groups of residents. Hugh plays old favourite tunes triggering recollections and feelings of days past, and creating new memories as well. Some residents sing a long with their book of songs, while others listen happily, with pleasure. Attending Hugh's piano program is a real favourite amongst the residents, some of whom insist on coming early just to wait in anticipation!

When asked about his most memorable experiences volunteering at Christie Gardens, Hugh recounts the story of Jennie, who with advanced-stage dementia, one day out of the blue came up beside Hugh and starting singing along. Five weeks later Jennie came to Hugh's piano program with her husband and on that particular day they were the last to leave. Hugh knew that Jennie's favourite tune was 'You Are My Sunshine' so he played it for Jennie again, and when Hugh looked up from his piano Jennie and her husband were dancing!

'Sometimes there's just magic in the room' says Hugh. This is the incredible healing power of music to individuals.

Hugh explains that volunteering has taught him how personally rewarding it can be to share your talent with others. Most rewarding Hugh says, is that each time he volunteers he walks away feeling, and knowing, that he is genuinely appreciated.

When you ask Hugh if he has any advice for someone considering volunteering, he simply replies 'Just go for it! Just ask yourself, what am I waiting for?'

Hugh has consistently demonstrated what it means to give. He has made a huge mark on the lives of those who choose Christie Gardens as their home and for that, Christie Gardens is forever grateful. Christie Gardens would like to take this opportunity to publically thank Hugh for his generous contribution of time and talent – we hope to have Hugh with us for many years to come.