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Widower turns tragedy into reason to volunteer

Brian Olivier

Brian Oliver was inspired to become a volunteer for The Ottawa Hospital after his wife, Elaine Oliver, received care. His sharing spirit and warm smile make other patients feel at ease.

Everyone who volunteers at The Ottawa Hospital has a reason.  For Brian Oliver, that reason was to pay tribute to the people who helped him and his wife, Elaine Oliver.

Brian and Elaine came to The Ottawa Hospital and Cancer Centre after Elaine was diagnosed with ocular melanoma, a kind of cancer that affects the eyes.

“You walk into the hospital feeling stressed, knowing the outcome isn’t good, but you walk out smiling and that’s because of the staff and volunteers—or angels, I like to call them,” said Brian.

Sadly, Elaine passed away in 2015, but Brian remembers how the staff and volunteers at The Ottawa Hospital made him feel during such a difficult time. Brian found his reason and decided to become a volunteer.

“It’s easier to talk to someone who’s been through it. It’s such a wonderful and rewarding experience.”

“I thought, if I could help someone and put a smile on their face, then I’ve done something right with my life,” said Brian

Brian has been a volunteer at the General Campus of The Ottawa Hospital every Tuesday and Wednesday morning since 2018.  He spends most of that time at the Cancer Centre. He points people in the right direction, brings baked treats every Tuesday for the staff and volunteers, and sits and chats with patients and families who need someone to talk to.

“It’s easier to talk to someone who’s been through it,” he said. “It’s such a wonderful and rewarding experience.”

Brian’s future as a volunteer at The Ottawa Hospital is bright.  He will be working at the Information Desks soon, where he will direct patients and families to where they have to go, answer questions and smile at everyone who walks by.  It’s all in the hope that patients and families will feel a little less stressed. He will also be training new volunteers.

“Brian is a wonderful addition to our team,” said Sherri Daly, Manager of Volunteer Resources.  “He has embraced the role and thrives on volunteering. He has inspired the entire team with his sharing spirit.”

Thank a volunteer during National Volunteer Week and throughout the year. The Ottawa Hospital is grateful to have Brian and more than one thousand other volunteers who continue to dedicate their time to help others.


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