Volunteer profile: Finding friendship across generations

Elaine Theriault is a typical 2nd year sociology and anthropology student at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. A native of Maine, she’s living away from home and keeping busy with her studies and university life. But for one hour every week, Elaine steps into a whole other world.

She heads from her university dorm to the nursing home next door where she volunteers with the Canadian Red Cross’ friendly visiting program. There, she meets with an elderly lady and provides some companionship.

Elaine Theriault

Red Cross volunteer Elaine Theriault

Since Elaine started volunteering last fall, the two quickly bonded. It turns out they have lots in common, such as the teaching profession, the importance of family and a similar outlook on life.

“She’s so much fun to be around and it’s nice to see another perspective. I’m around students all the time and being with her reminds me of being home and of my grandmother.”

Despite the fact that her new friend has been in a nursing home for many years, Elaine is amazed that it hasn’t dampened her spirits. In fact, it’s been inspiring to be around her.

The experience has been great for both women. Seniors in the friendly visiting program are often isolated and looking for social interaction. They are matched with a Red Cross volunteer in their community who commits to visiting them regularly. 

“I’m getting so much out of volunteering. It’s helped me be more open and accepting of new experiences.”

Friendly visiting is one of several senior services offered throughout New Brunswick. Want to get involved? Get in touch with your local Red Cross office.

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