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McGill’s Volunteers Provide Sweetest Smiles of the Season

This week's Campus Celebrity is not a person but an event! Meet Smile-O-Ween, a volunteering event that will take place this Saturday, created through the efforts of our very own McGill association, Volunteers for a Smile. I had the pleasure of interviewing Anne-Ségolène, the club's VP Events. 

Alexandra Faure for Her Campus Mcgill (Hc McGill): You are VP Events of Volunteers for a Smile; please explain what this club is?

Anne-Ségolène Capelle (AC): “Empowering the world one smile at a time:” This is Volunteers for a Smile’s motto and by far the best way to describe us! Throughout our regular hospital events, held during major celebrations (Halloween, New Year, Valentine’s Day, Easter…) we collect billions of smiles. Furthermore, the most qualified volunteers are sent to our medical mission trips, organized through International Service Learning (ISL). The upcoming one is going to take place this December, in Machu Picchu, Peru. Last but not least, we are developing a mentoring program in foster homes to, once again, gather more smiles! For these events to exist, Volunteers for a Smile organizes creative fundraising events, like our upcoming Twister tournament.

HC McGill: How do you feel giving out the cards?

AC: The cards mentioned here were designed and signed by our beloved volunteers on community engagement day (CED) and later on campus during our Craft a Card event. Handing them out to the patients is not the best part of the process, seeing the patient’s reaction is! It makes me feel both grateful to all the stunning volunteers who have designed the cards and been embraced by the patient’s warm smile.

HC McGill: Explain to our readers what is Smile-O-Ween?

AC: Smile-O-Ween is one of many events hosted by Volunteers for a Smile. It’s all about allowing hospital patients enjoy Halloween the way most of us do – with great company, chocolate, costumes and smiles! On Saturday November 1st, from 3 to 5 pm, exceptional volunteers will be going to the Montreal General Hospital dressed up in their best Halloween costumes to spend quality time with the patients, handing them chocolate, candy, hand-craft cards and collect as many smiles as possible!

HC McGill: How long have you run Smile-O-Ween?

AC: This is the first time Smile-O-Ween is taking place, as at this time last year, Volunteers for a Smile was just emerging. However, similar events have been held for Easter (Eggspose a Smile), Valentine’s Day (Spread the Love) and the New Year (Be Brave Campaign).

HC McGill: Has it been very effective? Have you received a lot of smiles?

AC: Yes, a lot more than one can possibly imagine! And there is nothing more heartwarming than going home having seen as many happy faces!

HC McGill: How do the patients react?

AC: The patients generally act surprised at first and somewhat curious. However, after having spent five minutes with them, either chatting, sharing about your lives or even performing a song on your guitar whilst singing, they do not want you to leave!

HC McGill: Can anyone join? If yes, how do they participate?

AC: Anyone able to smile is welcome to join us! Just look out for our events (be it fundraisers, volunteering events, get together activities…) on our Facebook page, join our newsletter, and do not forget to sign up before the deadline!


HC McGill: Please tell us the best experience you’ve had with a patient

AC: That is a tough question as every experience is incomparable to one another due to it’s uniqueness – from the old fellow who’s been to war to the young lady who has travelled the world and was diagnosed with cancer. A bestseller could be written from each and one of these fighting patients’ lives. There is a nice time I remember though. I once met a woman who had been a patient at the Montreal General Hospital for a few years. After introducing ourselves to each other, our conversation rapidly converged to our common passion: music. We began singing a few old French tunes together, discussing about our favorite composers – Bach, Rachmaninoff and Dvorak were the ones we shared in common. She told me all about her husband who used to be a conductor, and her children who she had not seen in years. The conversation went on for an hour or so; it was smooth and pleasant, and I knew when I left her she had spent a good time thanks to the gleaming smile exposed on her gracious face.

HC McGill: Are there other events you would like to invite McGill students?

AC: Yes! Many events similar to Smile-O-Ween take place during the year! Coming up soon is our clubbing party (to raise money for future volunteering events), our Twister events, the Peru medical mission trip and more! Just check out our Facebook page, be sure to like us and sign up for our newsletter!


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