By Sonia Hazan

At Hope & Cope, we are very lucky! As volunteers, we get to work with amazing and dedicated staff. They nourish the patients and us, and during COVID times, have shown their flexibility and their ingenuity.  In this edition of Volunteer Voices, we will introduce you to three of them.

NADIA SMIRNOW, physiotherapist

Nadia’s area of expertise is oncology. She receives referrals directly from the medical team. “We all know that exercise has a positive impact on physical and mental health, and after screening, we strive to help our patients achieve these positive results.” Her main objective is to help patients regain function and mobility and meet their personal goals, for example, “I want to be able to hold my child/grandchild again.”

The volunteers assigned to Nadia are extremely helpful in many ways. Most of them have a background in fitness and once a personalized exercise program has been designed for each patient, volunteers provide supervision. They also are an extra pair of eyes and ears for Nadia to find out, for instance, if an upcoming test is a source of stress or if a patient has other concerns.  “Our volunteers are an extension of the medical team,” says Nadia.

She is proud to say she is part of a family that loves camping, and she relaxes by doing strength training! Hello barbells.

ANOULINE SINTHARAPHONE, Cancer Exercise & Rehabilitation Coordinator

Anouline has a Bachelor’s of science degree from Concordia as a kinesiologist (the study of movement and how the body reacts to it).  She has applied her knowledge and expertise for the past 12 years at Hope & Cope. The process starts with screening participants who are referred by doctors or social workers. Granted, COVID has thrown a curve ball, which makes this assessment more challenging, as the initial evaluation is now done virtually. The main points she focuses on are: posture, mobility, balance and exercises such as “sit to stand”.  She then recommends a safe and appropriate program for each patient.

Anouline also oversees the physical activity classes that Hope & Cope offers.  Most of them, such as yoga, tai chi, qi gong, are now offered online and Anouline relies heavily on the accredited volunteers who teach these classes. “They bring knowledge, energy, passion and dedication to their task.  They also explain the philosophy behind each exercise.”

Anouline’s passion is singing. She enjoys R&B, Motown, Hip Hop and even participated in a talent show!  You also can check out her personal YouTube channel, Fitness by Anouline. Way to go Anouline!

ELIZABETH BARBOSA, Programs & Volunteer Administrator

Elizabeth Barbosa

Elizabeth is Hope & Cope’s newest staff member, having joined us in April.  Because of the pandemic, she has met her colleagues and volunteers only virtually.  She comes highly qualified with a background in Art History from Concordia, a McGill certificate in Translation and an interesting mix of experience, including marketing and advertising for large corporations. As a cancer survivor who has benefited from Hope & Cope’s services, she understands the journey patients are going through, and is very compassionate.

Although she has not yet had the opportunity to surround herself with volunteers in her new position, she loves the energy and the willingness to “give back” that our volunteers exhibit daily.

As an activist, Elizabeth is passionate about environmental issues. For several months, she has been picking up discarded masks on the streets, in the parks, and encourages everyone around her to do likewise. We are thankful for her contribution to our environment and to Hope & Cope!