… of building bridges between generations
In creating the organization Ninnavita in the West Island neighborhood of Montreal, Vita Lewis, an SNJM associate in the English-speaking group, was inspired by Mother Marie-Rose and her desire to help people reach their full potential. She explains, “Our goal is to provide a place for volunteers to nurture their minds and bodies, as well as their spirituality, in an atmosphere of joy and friendship.”
Regardless of their type of volunteer work, age, gender, or mother tongue, all are invited to take advantage of this resource created by and for volunteers. Such an organization also has the merit of fostering intergenerational ties since it brings together as many young people as it does senior citizens and those in the prime of their lives.
“I believe it is very important to build bridges between generations. It’s a way of opening up to other realities and breaking down barriers. It is also a valuable source of knowledge and experience,” says Ms. Lewis. One of Ninnavita’s goals is to help volunteers identify their assets, such as knowledge and personal qualities, and to encourage them to use these talents in service to others.
Nourishing mind and body
Following the example of Mother Marie-Rose, Vita believes in the importance of on-going formation to help develop the potential of each volunteer. Ninnavita offers volunteers time and space to meet each other and to share experiences and tips. It also offers these committed volunteers a place where they can express their doubts and fears in certain situations, ask for help in solving a problem, or simply give themselves “time to be”.
Participating volunteers are invited to identify their needs and the organization takes responsibility for finding appropriate resources wherever they can be found. Activities held at the Pierrefonds East Community Centre include: conferences; time to share experiences; discussions in English and in French; multicultural games; and even karaoke and square dancing just to relax. The program also includes “laughter yoga” sessions, tai chi, and other similar activities.
Vita Lewis is very involved in her parish and has also been involved in several SNJM activities, including the Youth Justice Forum held in Saint-Lambert in 2015. A mother who had a career in teaching, Vita is known for her leadership skills, her ability to meet challenges, and her sense of humour.
Motivating and energizing
“I strongly believe in the impact of collective commitments in transforming an environment,” says Ms. Lewis. In this context, Ninnavita‘s work of providing resources to support volunteers is extremely valuable. The organization offers concrete help. The founders’ dream now is to acquire a locale of their own so that they can increase the organization’s presence in their area and broaden its influence.
Gathering volunteers known for their commitment to society offers an opportunity for multiple discoveries and exciting encounters. Vita concludes with the words, “It is also a source of motivation and stimulation.”