In the fall of 2021, a new initiative between the CISSS de la Montérégie- Ouest and the Montérégie West Community Network (MWCN) was created to provide an opportunity for interested healthcare and social services workers to, practise their English with English-speaking volunteers from the community. This collaboration was aptly names the Let’s Chat! Program.
I started working at MWCN on September 7th, 2021 and was excited to be a part of the dynamic and passionate team at the Châteauguay office. During my first few days, I began the groundwork for the Let’s Chat! program. After its initial promotion on MWCN’s Facebook page, primarily to generate interest for English-speaking volunteers, we were able to start pairing the first few teams in early October. Since then, we are up to a total of 30 teams!
In the Let’s Chat! program, volunteers are first contacted by their paired healthcare worker, by e-mail or phone, and they decide between themselves how they prefer to speak, when they want to speak, and for how long. The frequency and amount of time spent conversing each time is entirely up to their discretion. Most teams have reported speaking once a week, for around 45 minutes to 1 hour. Discussion topics range from workers practising real, work-based scenarios with their English-speaking clientele, to casual conversations about movies, books, or favourite pastimes. A few teams have even felt comfortable meeting in person and are eager to do so again once public health measures permit. Feedback has largely been positive from both volunteers and workers, citing encouraging and beneficial discussions, happiness from new-found friendship, and a gratefulness to the volunteers for helping workers better serve the English-speaking community’s needs. While the old Champlain bridge is being dismantled, we are forming new bridges in the West—built on friendship and cooperation— to reduce the gap for those who, at times, can find their language barriers to be a challenge, personally and professionally.
We congratulate both volunteers and healthcare workers for participating in such an important initiative. Our community’s volunteers certainly stepped up and answered the call, devoting their time selflessly to a much-needed cause. A special place in my heart is warmed with the thought of all the workers who are interested in expanding and improving their linguistic capacities during their personal time, in order to better serve their diverse clientele!
For more information, or if you are interested in volunteering, feel free to visit our Facebook book page or our website at https://www.mwcn.ca/.
NPI MWCN Chateauguay/Candiac