Witten by Anna Chumbe

In September 2022, Lévy took PSYC 491, a university-level course in which, as part of the subject evaluation, students were placed in volunteer positions in different organizations across Montréal. That was how Lévy was introduced to Maison St-Raphaël. A year and a half after the course ended, Lévy still continues as a volunteer at our organization, where you can say hi to him on Friday mornings at the Art Hive in the Day Centre.

As one of four volunteers on rotation for the art activities, Lévy is there to provide support, artistic or otherwise, for the patients, family members, and caregivers who come to chat and connect over the art tables. Lévy actually doesn’t specialize in art; what he is particularly gifted in is providing a place where those who are caring for a loved one can find care and support in turn. What is created here is a sense of community: “you’re not alone, you have people around you.” The art is just an excuse to come socialize and connect, he says.

Lévy, whose schedule is packed between work and school—he goes from Maison St-Raphaël straight to work, and studies psychology at McGill—takes time out every week to help out because he finds it very important to support not only the patients but those around them. A large portion of the people Lévy works with at the Art Hive are grieving family members who frequent the Day Centre. Lévy, who was the primary caregiver for his grandmother during the pandemic, notes that it is so easy to forget to take care of yourself— “Like a cook who arrives home after preparing meals for people all day and is too tired to cook for themselves,” he says.

Lévy has a patient, nurturing personality. He takes pleasure in the everyday, such as going to school in the morning and seeing a dad carrying a Hello Kitty backpack and holding his daughter’s hand. “That makes my day,” he says, laughing. He also enjoys cooking. As a caterer and worker in food service, the nurturing component of feeding people particularly appeals to him. A recipe never comes out the same way twice with him (although it’s just as tasty!): if you ask him to cook that meal from the other day, you’ll be served a completely new creation! Cooking’s a creative act, he says, like painting.

When asked what message he would like to give to those of you reading this biography, he said, “It takes so little to be impactful in the palliative care environment. There is a lot of comfort that can come from the fact that there’s no pressure to have a conversation. The little things have a lot of importance: it could be remembering what they take in their coffee, or that their daughter had a soccer game. It takes nothing to ask that question. I think that if more people did little things, it would be immensely impactful.” And he added, “Legacy, in the end, is how many people you touch.” This idea comes to him from his late grandmother, who had a deep influence in forging community and reaching others. “The impact we have is but on our close others. But I think that’s impact enough.”

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