Another chance to make a change
The boutique is quiet, with just a browsing shopper deciding on a blouse, while another is in the stall sizing up a shirt he spotted earlier. Friendly volunteers greet and assist customers who wander the racks of clothes, shoes, bits and bobs, but this is no ordinary shop.
Within the walls of St. Joseph's West 5th Campus is a place where shoppers can purchase affordable, quality goods, in an environment where they can feel safe and free of stigma.
Ian has been volunteering at Twice as Nice for five years, "I helped design the layout of the store for the new building," he explains, "and now we're open five days a week instead of just three."
The small retail space is open to inpatients at West 5th Campus to allow them to purchase the necessities they require, and in a setting that is much like a chic boutique. Items such as gently used and new pants, shirts, socks and underwear, shoes, and toiletries are for sale at a price everyone can feel good about.
"St. Joe's takes care of you one hundred percent; physically, mentally, and spiritually. Everything here is about the patient."
Ian has been an inpatient fifteen times and says it's part of the reason he can connect with the shoppers at Twice as Nice. "I know exactly where they're coming from, and I can understand what they're going through."
Ian's favourite part about volunteering at St. Joe's is helping out those who are down on their luck, but ultimately his goal is to break down barriers. "I want to break the wall of stigma, and that's what I try to do by talking to people…volunteering here allows you to provide others with the dignity they deserve because they are people."
For Ian, volunteering at West 5th Campus is a rewarding opportunity to connect and help others. "A lot of people think they have nothing to offer but that's not true," says Ian. "Everyone has something they can do to help society and right now we need to spread kindness."
Although he has multiple shifts a week, Ian also continues his care at St. Joe's as an outpatient. "This is my safe haven, when I walk through that front door I know I'm safe. My doctor works in the hospital; I know how to get a hold of him immediately. I know the nursing staff, everybody… it's like my extended family. "
"But the special thing is that I get to walk out that door at the end of the day to go home and I can say 'I am well today.'"