Whether he’s helping patients recover and rebuild their lives after a stroke, or coaching kids on the baseball diamond, CUPE 1252 member Richard Snow is always focusing on the positive.
Snow has been an occupational therapist at the Saint John Regional Hospital for the past five years. In that time he’s worked to draw a lot of stroke patients out of despair.
“When they come into the hospital, 95 per cent of them feel like their life is done. And they’re asking ‘why me?’” he says.
“I ask them about the five Ws – questions about what they like to do, how many people in their family, what their hobbies are, and go from there. I’m really just trying to bring them out. And make them feel like they’re a human being,” says Snow.
In his coaching work, he’s also working to connect the kids with positive experiences and influences.
“If I can get the kids off the streets for three hours a night, my job is done,” says Snow. His coaching role gives him a special spot in many kids’ lives.
“A lot of the kids I coach are without a mom or dad. I’ve had phone calls in the middle of the night, kids crying about their parents splitting up. I’ve been a father to a lot of these kids,” says Snow, who has three daughters aged 28, 20 and 18.
“I never had sons, but I bet you I’ve had 10,000 kids as my boys. And I still see them today. It’s something to watch a kid who was ten years old when you first coached them, grow up to be a man,” says Snow.
Snow has been a health care worker for 23 year. He’s also been coaching baseball for nearly as long, volunteering with national, provincial, city and high school teams, and taking teams to numerous national and regional tournaments. Baseball is an integral part of his life and his community.
“There are kids I’ve coached who are now working in the hospital with me. And there are guys I’ve played junior and senior baseball with – now I coach their sons. It’s quite the circle when you play ball with the dads and then coach their sons. It’s nice to see that love passed down from father to son.”
Right now Snow is coaching a junior team of 18 to 21-year-olds. When that season’s over in August, he’ll move to coaching a high school team. In between, he’s also helping out with a Little League team and the New Brunswick team.
His love of baseball has passed down to at least one of his children. She went to the same high school as Snow, and was also a catcher. Snow was blown away when she was named the team’s most valuable player at graduation – an award he also netted in high school.
“You hand out trophies over the years to all these guys, and all of a sudden the coach said, ‘you’re going to like what’s going to happen’. I had no idea. Then they announced my daughter’s name. I choked right up, it brought a tear to my eye. I was so proud.”
Baseball isn’t just part of Snow’s community. He also sees it weaving his community more closely together. He started out coaching baseball in a lower-income area of Saint John. Now, the city team draws from all areas of the city. “Kids from different high schools and neighbourhoods are best buds,” says Snow.
“Community is bringing people together, and knowing your neighbour.… If I can help these kids out, I’m going to help them out because they’re part of the community.”