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Remembering Oak Ridge


Certificates of Appreciation

Certificates of Appreciation, 1967

Volunteer Handbook, 1972

Volunteers at Oak Ridge

An active group of community volunteers contributed to the social activities at Oak Ridge over the course of its history. They visited with patients and helped to coordinate events such as parties, bingo tournaments, and game nights. They also helped to staff the patient library, helped in the Hobby Shop, and visited patients on the wards. 

A 1972 Volunteer Handbook that was distributed to new volunteers emphasized the benefits to treatment that derived from social contact. Volunteers were expected to be: "mature, stable, cheerful, interested in people and have good motives" as well as being willing to commit to regularly giving their time (Tidy, 1972, p. 2). While they were encouraged to be flexible in their assigned duties, there were certain rules volunteers were to follow:

  • "If in doubt ASK!"
  • "respect the privacy and confidence of patients"
  • "respect the patient as an individual"
  • "be aware of hospital rules and regulations and observe them"
  • "If a patient does not respond, do not take it personally and do not force attention on him"
  • "avoid favouritism"
  • "Guard against becoming emotionally involved with any patient!"
  • "Do try to keep appointments but, if necessary to cancel, do it with due notice"
  • "Listen, but don't pry"
  • "DON'T make telephone calls for patients"
  • "DON'T mail letters for patients"
  • "DON'T give matches to patients" (Tidy, 1972, p. 3-4) 

The Oak Ridge Dances

During the 1960s, the volunteers began to arrange dances at Oak Ridge. The monthly evening event provided a social activity for the men but was also thought to help to soften the image of the institution. The rules of the dances were simple: the women gave only their first names and avoided discussing personal information. One attendee, Joan Morris, recalled:

“There were no unpleasant circumstances or situations at all. There weren’t any times when someone stepped over the bounds” (quoted in Neilson, 2006, p. 171).

Volunteer Appreciation Banquets

Beginning in 1962, the patients organized a Volunteer Appreciation Banquet in which they recognized the inividuals who had given their time over the year. The evening included dinner, awards, and speeches all arranged by the patients. 

By Jennifer L. Bazar

Page Last Updated: June 4, 2015


Boyd, B. A. (1964). Our jails and the psychiatric examination and treatment of the disturbed offender. Canadian Journal of Corrections6, 477-479.

Nielsen, R. F. (2006). Total encounters: The life and times of the Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene. Penetanguishene, ON: Mental Health Centre Volunteer Association.

Tidy, P. (1972). Volunteer handbook. Penetanguishene, ON: Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene.

To Cite this Page

Bazar, J. L. (2015). Volunteers. In J. L. Bazar (Ed.), Remembering Oak Ridge Digital Archive and Exhibit. Retrieved from