17:36 PM

Alumnus volunteers to keep patients well-coiffed despite shutdowns

Throughout the COVID-19 public health crisis, amid the statistics and challenges we have heard about in the news, there have also been many stories about how people are making a positive difference. Many Mohawk College alumni have been among the quiet army of people who have been working to keep the community healthy, safe and strong. In an ongoing series of brief articles, we would like to introduce you to some of those Mountaineer alumni and share their gestures of kindness in tough times.

Can anyone say, “No” to a 105-year-old man who asks for help? Certainly not Marjan Ghasemy.

Ghasemy, Practical Nursing ’19, is an RPN with Thrive Group at St. Peter’s Residence at Chedoke. She has been safely working throughout the coronavirus crisis, attending to residents and keeping everyone’s spirits up. Several residents have been finding the absence of family and social interaction very difficult in their already-isolated circumstances. So, when one resident – a 105-year-old gentleman – complained about how long his hair had grown, Ghasemy offered to help.

“When I was younger, I had summer jobs at hair salons and took some courses,” she said. And once residents learned that she had the skills and the tools, that first centenarian haircut turned into several more. Now, Ghasemy volunteers time outside of her shifts and on her days off to return to St. Peter’s Residence and cut peoples’ hair.

“When the lockdown started, the hair salon at the residence closed,” she said. “You could see all the residents needed help. Some of them were growing afros.”

Ghasemy has dedicated herself to the service of others for years. She worked in salons as a young adult and moved into teaching people English as a Second Language. When she arrived in Canada as a newcomer from Turkey in 2015, it made sense that she would be attracted to another service-focused occupation. Before she had completed her program, Ghasemy had already started working with Thrive Group at St. Peter’s Residence, so when a position presented itself, the transition was easy.

Taking on this volunteer service required some added administration for Ghasemy. She needed to get permission from the Thrive management team and also needed to contact family members for permission before she could help a resident. At first, she was just cutting hair for people on her floor but the list has since grown and, as the lockdown continues, she is starting to receive repeat requests.

“As long as I see a need, I’ll just do it,” she said. “I like them and it makes them happy. So, it makes me happy, too.

“It’s not a perfect world but we do what we can to help out.”