From left Debbie Riopel, Doreen Bruce and Anne Hartnell. (Aaron Hinks photo)

From left Debbie Riopel, Doreen Bruce and Anne Hartnell. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Semiahmoo Peninsula grandmothers share the power of listening

Oneness Gogos raise awareness about Random Acts of Kindness

Random acts of kindness can come in different forms, but sometimes a meaningful act can also be one of the simplest.

Few people likely know the “power of listening and being listened to” as well as Doreen Bruce.

Bruce, who doesn’t share her age, has volunteered for the Peace Arch Hospice Society since 1997. Last September, the society named her a Lifetime Member.

A petite lady with a big heart, Bruce is the keeper of secrets.

Through her volunteer work at hospice, people at the end of their life tend to say things to Bruce that they refuse to say to their own family or counsellor.

In a conversation with Peace Arch News last week, Bruce shared her insight on how lending an ear can be a profound experience for both people involved.

SEE ALSO: Simple acts that can have big results

Bruce recalled a hospice patient who expressed resentment because she’d paused her life to care for her mother.

“So she told me about all of those years of frustrations, but really, it was love. But she didn’t have a life of her own and she fell madly in love when she was 60 years old when her mother passed away. And what a life she had with this man,” Bruce said.

“She was getting weaker and weaker. She said, ‘I’m going to sing to you in Japanese,’ and she did. What a compliment. What a gift, to meet someone like that in their last moments of their life and to have those moments, those sacred moments.”

In another instance, Bruce said, a counsellor called and requested her help because a patient wasn’t speaking.

“I went in at quarter to one and I left at 5:30,” Bruce recalled. “She leaned back and said, ‘Now why am I telling you all of these things?’”

The conversation fostered a relationship, and the woman phoned Bruce in the middle of the night, during a “terrible storm,” and asked for a ride to the hospital.

“I got her to the hospital. You know, you’re not supposed to do those things, but I did a lot I wasn’t supposed to. They didn’t give me heck for it because they knew it was from the right place,” Bruce said. “And then, I was with her before she passed away.”

Bruce, Anne Hartnell and Debbie Riopel, who are all part of the Oneness Gogos, visited PAN last week to raise awareness about Random Acts of Kindness Day Feb. 17.

SEE ALSO: How a murder led to Random Act of Kindness Week

Hartnell, who volunteers at the Peace Arch Hospice Society Thrift Store, shared her own experience of how listening can help someone get through the day.

“I had (a customer) in front of me, suddenly, open up about their life. And then they’ll say, ‘I didn’t mean to talk about that,’ But because there is somebody there, ready to listen… I’m thinking, wow, that’s heavy that they’re dealing with that,” Hartnell said.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Random Acts of Kindness and Riopel says there seems to be a greater need for the event than there has ever been.

“I think we’re a little bit more disconnected probably because of our phones,” Riopel said.

“And we’re a bit more isolated,” Hartnell added.

For their part, the Gogos will be bringing heart-shaped cookies, gift bags and baked goods for staff, patients and volunteers at the hospice next week.

The group will also receive a tour of the new facility, located across the street from the Peace Arch Hospital.

The trio encourages everyone to participate in an act of kindness, whether big or small, throughout the week.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Reports of student attendance ‘dwindling’ at Surrey schools: teachers’ association

STA president said he’s heard from staff that students might not attend in-person for 4th quarter

(Photo: MOSAIC/Facebook)
Organization receives $10K from B.C. government to tackle racism in Surrey, White Rock

Funding to go toward forum for International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

A police officer aims a radar gun at oncoming traffic during a school-zone speed trap traffic blitz outside Peace Arch Elementary in 2017. (File photo)
White Rock council heeds residents’ plea for better speed signage

Roper Avenue concerns note proximity of two elementary schools

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read