88-year-old volunteer makes a difference for 51 years at Sunnybrook Hospital

At 88 years old, Shirley Taylor feels that giving back is simply a way of life.

In her five decades, Taylor has donated her time to various areas of Sunnybrook Hospital – including the emergency department, medical imaging and the gift shop, where she currently volunteers every Thursday.

“It’s not a chore, it never has been,” Taylor told Global News. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Katherine Alexopoulos, Director of Volunteer Resources at Sunnybrook says Taylor has become an invaluable member of the team.

“Shirley is a vital part of that gift shop,” said Alexopoulos. “It’s often a place for people to go to get away from the long wait or if a staff member needs a break. The gift shop is just a happy place to go amidst the hospital.”

Taylor agrees.

“Sunnybrook is a great place to be, because you know there’s so much good happening here,” said Taylor.

And when asked what keeps Taylor coming back after all these years?

“It’s the people. Not just the patients we interact with, but the other volunteers and staff,” said Taylor.

“Shirley is a good friend and we work well together and I’ve enjoyed her company,“ said Yolanda Cira, Volunteer, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Alexopoulos says Taylor’s presence and contributions make all the difference.

“Shirley is one of those people, regardless of whether they volunteer in the gift shop or in patient care, or in a clinic area – the difference they make to enhancing the patient family experience, you can’t put a value on that,” said Alexopoulos.

For Taylor, it’s all about the joy she finds in giving back.

“You like to give something to your community too,” Taylor said. “ The hospital is a wonderful place and I’m proud to be here.”

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