Volunteer of the Month: Rosalie Larcombe
If you’ve seen the “Ladies in Red” at a citizenship ceremony, you’ve probably seen Rosi. She’s been helping coordinate the ceremonies for many years and she always wears bright red.
She “greets and seats” the inductees, many of whom she knows, and watches as they swear their oaths.
“I’ve been to more than 200 ceremonies, and I still cry,” she says. “It’s really great.”
The other Ladies in Red, Laurette, Nancy, Babe, Lori, Ingrid, Karen, and Rosi work on a rotating shift to cover the two ceremonies that happen every week and the ceremony “blitz” that happens once a month. Believe me, I could not do this without their help. They are an incredible team and I am so very proud of them.
Rosi has been volunteering at the Immigrant Centre for so long she can’t remember when she started, but she thinks it was around 2004.
After seeing an ad in the paper asking for volunteers, she applied hoping she could help answer phones or seal envelopes. Instead, the volunteer coordinator suggested she facilitate English classes.
“I laughed when they asked that,” she says. “I was a bartender and a paint mixer before. I didn’t know how to teach.”
But within a few days Rosi was welcoming her very first class of newcomers to English class.
“I was scared.”
Over time she created her own curriculum, including field trips, and exercises. Once she took a group of women from South America to a police station.
“Some people with different backgrounds don’t trust the police,” she said. “So we all piled into the office and there was a nice officer there ready to answer questions.”
None of the women spoke. When the officer shut the door behind them to start the meeting, Rosi says some women were nervous.
“So I started asking questions,” she says. “Before I knew it, they were bombarding him with questions,” she said. “It was really quite funny.”
Another time, she took a class to The Forks to look at the produce market. “They all thought they didn’t know how to speak enough English to ask any questions.”
Rosi is a quick thinker, and she decided all they needed was a little confidence.
“I told them to think about a recipe they like from home and then share it with someone else in the group. Before I knew it they were all talking about the food they liked, even if it wasn’t fully in English.”
“I said, ‘Hey! What are you speaking in?’ And they all laughed and said ‘English!’”
Now Rosi works mostly on the citizenship ceremonies. Once a year, Immigrant Centre hosts one. She finds sponsors for the luncheon and coordinates the whole event.
The most recent one was at Union Station on March 17. Over 200 people attended.
Rosi wishes more newcomers knew about Immigrant Centre. “I’d like to stand in the middle of Portage and Main and announce it! Go to the Immigrant Centre!”
When it comes to volunteering, she says it’s one of her favourite things to do.
“If you’re looking for something to do,” she says, “get out here and volunteer with all these amazing newcomers! Call the Immigrant Centre and get involved.”
“I definitely get more out of it than what I can give,” she says.
Thank you Rosi, for all you have done for the Immigrant Centre. We could not provide the services we do without the help from you and all our many amazing volunteers.