March 20, 2019
Volunteer works weekly shifts at both the Front Desk and the School.
Mike Perkins with fellow Front Desk volunteer, Janet Sutton.
If you arrive at RMHC Toronto on a Thursday afternoon and find Mike Perkins at the Front Desk, more than likely, he is going to be standing up.
“I’m always just ready to go,” says Mike, a retired high school music teacher who has been volunteering weekly at the House for more than two years.
I used to tell my students, ‘You will not out-energy me. You can try, but you won’t succeed.’”
“I like to think I still have that energy,” he says with a smile.
RMHC Toronto was at the top of Mike’s list when he started to think about volunteer jobs after retiring in 2016. He had done a few fundraisers for the House in previous years and the organization had touched his heart.
“I see my role as doing whatever needs to be done; to help staff do their jobs more easily and efficiently and to help families manage the unimaginable experiences they are going through. Whether that means I’m giving a tour, getting a room ready for a new family or opening the door for a visitor, I treat my role with the sense of responsibility it needs.”
During his first few months at the House, Mike learned about our on-site school and saw an opportunity to make a contribution there as well.
Since September 2017, he has been volunteering every Monday afternoon, teaching English, reading and history to students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12. Teaching students in the primary grades is a completely different experience than teaching teenagers, says Mike, but he is loving the challenges of this new experience.
A highlight was the special class he taught that introduced students to the instruments in an orchestra.
“Most children have watched a concert and seen instruments being played. But to actually strum a guitar, bow a violin or push the keys on a trumpet, that’s amazing!
“On the cool scale, that’s way up there for kids,” he says.
Mike with an RMHC Toronto School student.
Mike is thrilled to be able to bring these experiences to our students.
“It’s a privilege to be here and an honour to get to know some of the families and the staff,” he says. “Everyone is so kind to me.”
His fellow volunteers clearly feel the same way about him.
“I love working with Mike, to be honest,” says Janice Sutton. “But don’t tell him I said that.”