Irene Stagg gives so much to Ostomy Halifax. Irene is quiet and goes about helping others with no fanfare or desire for praise. She just gets the job done.
A retired nurse after 38 years of service who looks as though she must have started her career at age 10, Irene “solved” her Crohn’s problem with an irreversible ileostomy in 1981.
She immediately joined the Halifax chapter and has been volunteering ever since. Starting as member of the youth group, Irene looked after grocery tapes, totalling them for rebates that could be used for chapter funding. She was an interim treasurer, served on the organizing committees for the chapter’s 25th and 40th anniversaries, was a certified visitor and, five years ago, took over as visitor chair.
“The late Olive Jackson became chapter vice-president and had to give up visitor chair,” Irene recalls. “(member) Gail Creelman held my hand up as the next chair and whispered to me, ‘I’ll help you’, and that’s how it happened.”
She also handles the Ostomy Halifax phone line, answering questions and solving problems for new and experienced people living with an ostomy.
In her key role as Volunteer Visitor Coordinator, Irene receives calls from the ETs with names of those who have recently had surgery. Irene links the patients to chapter visitors of the same age, gender and ostomy type, not always an easy task.
Irene also coordinates Visitor Training Sessions. Visitors must complete a national certification every three years. Irene keeps track of who needs training, works with the ETs to develop the training materials, coordinates the sessions, the delivery of the training, and the provision of information to national office.
Not content to be idle, Irene volunteers once a week, assisting patients negotiate their way through the hospital in which she worked for 31 years.
She is a true unsung hero at Ostomy Halifax.