Meet Joyce, the Cancer Centre's First Volunteer

Meet Joyce, the Cancer Centre's First Volunteer

Meet Joyce, the Cancer Centre's First Volunteer

Joyce Bell was Grand River Regional Cancer Centre’s very first volunteer when it opened in 2004.

“I had applied to Grand River Regional Cancer Centre before the building was completed,” Joyce recalled. “I did tours for the public of the Cancer Centre before it officially opened and worked the first shift of the Monday it opened.”

More recently, Joyce had the honour of being the first volunteer to return to the Cancer Centre following the Omicron-fuelled wave of the pandemic. In late March, the Hospital was able to begin to allow a few, select volunteer roles to return, and Joyce is thrilled to be back.

“I feel attached to the [Cancer] Centre,” she said when asked about her experience as a long-time volunteer there. “I have a great [volunteer] partner I’ve worked with for about 17 years, and it just feels like a natural start to each week.”

Inspired by her daughter’s volunteer work, Joyce first began volunteering at Grand River Hospital in the spring of 2002. She first worked at the front desk in the main hospital and then in patient registration during SARS before taking on her current role at the Cancer Centre as a front desk volunteer.

“My daughter volunteered at Scott Pavilion in the ‘70s, and I saw what a positive effect it had for patients,” Joyce explained. “I decided then that when I retired I would do the same.”

As a front desk volunteer, Joyce is an ambassador for the Cancer Centre. She helps patients by escorting them to their appointment area, and she also porters patients from the Cancer Centre to the main hospital for medical imaging appointments when needed. Not only does Joyce find her volunteer role to be extremely rewarding, she also knows she’s making a big difference for the patients she interacts with.

“As a volunteer, you meet so many people over the years, and you don’t remember faces,” said Joyce. “Twice, I’ve met people months later away from the hospital who remembered me and said, ‘Thank you. You really helped us.’ That was a great feeling and is one of the reasons I will volunteer here as long as I am able.”

You, too, have the ability to make a difference for patients at Grand River. As Joyce so aptly put it, “Volunteering here gives you a chance to make a small difference in the lives of people who are experiencing difficult times, just by being friendly.” Visit, and join our incredible volunteer team!