Volunteer Profile: Simi Simon
Interview by Charles Leibovitch
“Salute to Simi, her grandmother would be proud.”
Simi Simon has been a peer support volunteer with the Peer Support Services at Jewish Seniors Alliance for over 5 years. Born in Trail B.C., she and her family moved to Vancouver when she was 8 years old as her parents wanted their 3 daughters to experience more Jewish culture. Her father was a furrier and her mother a homemaker. At a young age Simi was very close to her maternal grandmother and that’s when she began to be aware of and empathetic to her increasing physical and social isolation. Her grandmother initially moved from England to Winnipeg in the early 1900’s and after losing her husband, many years later, moved into the same apartment complex where she and her family lived. As a young teenager she began to be a caregiver for her grandmother who was trying to cope with illnesses related to aging. Simi was asked to and wanted to visit her on a daily basis. Simi would listen to her stories about her life and have that legacy to pass on to her daughters. It was wonderful company for both of them.
As an adult Simi had a long career with a major airline which had given her, her husband and children the opportunity to experience the flavor and cultures of many countries. She felt that travelling had enriched their lives. She has identical twin daughters who are now adults and have blessed her with grandchildren. She couldn’t imagine life without them.
Upon retirement she wanted to volunteer in her community of Richmond. She began as a volunteer recruiting other volunteers to assist in a variety of positions in need of support. The Richmond volunteer coordinator, Carol Dixon, interviewed Simi for the 11-week course that Grace Hann was instructing. She was part of a large group of mostly women who would be trained by the best, then graduate to become Certified Senior Peer Support Volunteers and Friendly Visitors. She has been part of the Vancouver support group for over 5 years. Grace is her inspiration! She also found that the training material opened up an emotional awareness about feelings and how to reach out to others in need. As well, she understood what difficult challenges seniors face whether they are lonely, isolated or mistreated by their own family. She treasures the Peer Support meetings as she learns new approaches to difficult situations. Simi is very grateful to Grace and fellow volunteers. She is proud to be part of this very valuable resource. Thank you to all!