Community Volunteers Key to Local Seniors Services | News

When the pandemic struck just over a year ago, retirees and working people across the region stepped up to make sure older people could stay in their homes safely.

Volunteers delivered groceries and medicine, and soon after, weekly meals. They haven’t stopped.

“We just couldn’t do it without our volunteers,” says Misty Douglas, Senior Services Coordinator for the Seniors Wellness Society of OneSky Community Resources.

“Our volunteers are the foundation of what we do. It is their kindness, their generosity and their benevolence.

Douglas says there are currently 77 active volunteers supporting seniors through Better at Home and the Safe Seniors Initiative, a provincial program that was quickly developed by the United Way to help seniors in the aftermath of the COVID epidemic.

More than 30 volunteers are preparing for their season with Cycling Without Age, which takes seniors on community rides in special trishaws to help people enjoy the fresh air and scenery.

It was the daily chores that volunteers did for the elderly that helped so significantly during this tumultuous year of restriction and isolation.

When the pandemic struck, program staff and volunteers quickly shifted from light housekeeping and transportation services to closer contact at grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions and delivering twice-weekly meals.

After a year, volunteers still make nearly a dozen grocery deliveries each day. Ten volunteer drivers on Tuesday and another 10 on Thursday spread out around the community to drop off hot and nutritious meals prepared by partners of the Penticton Seniors’ Drop-In Center Society.

“As our world changed, I looked for an opportunity to do something for others,” said Marg King, a regular meal operator. “As I am an elderly person myself, I had to consider something safe for myself. Food and grocery delivery seemed like a perfect solution.

“I really enjoyed the ability to deliver food and keep others in their homes. A great moment for me was receiving a homemade thank you card from an elder. She made my day and it makes me smile to watch her. I missed a week earlier in the season and when I got back a gentleman commented on how happy he was to see me. Is it any better than that? ”

As the pandemic continued, OneSky staff developed a friendly call program where volunteers connect with the elderly for a phone conversation to see how they are doing.

For Dominique Gautier, making his regular phone calls gives him real pleasure.

“I volunteer because I believe in giving back, I like to do something, not out of obligation but out of desire. The simplest of things can make the biggest difference to someone and if I have the means and the time to do it, I don’t see why I shouldn’t.

“People need help, or they want to connect, or they want to share a part of themselves, and I’m happy to be there for them in any way I can. I love the stories they tell and the lessons they share. I love the perspective that older people bring to everything, especially during the pandemic. “

“It’s so awesome to know that at the end of the day, caring and generous souls want to connect and help in their community,” said Douglas.

“We have volunteers who come from OK Falls, Summerland and Naramata to help with groceries and other chores. “

Trina Murray Volunteers to Help Teach Her Daughter About Kindness and Giving: “I volunteer because I know how lonely I feel and I hate to think of seniors on their own when the days are so. long, ”said Murray, a regular meal delivery driver. .

“I also love being a positive role model for my 10 year old daughter – teaching her kindness, and that we always have time to give to someone in need.”

Of the 77 active volunteers, 44 are 65 and over while 33 are 64 and under. The youngest volunteer is 18, a recent school graduate who does some online learning and helps with childbirth.

Douglas said volunteers often identify areas of interest, like phone visits, and how much time they have to volunteer. Some volunteers are more flexible and can step in to perform more spontaneous tasks while others like a regular commitment that they can plan on.

“We’re trying to make sure people don’t burn out,” adds Douglas. “It’s important for volunteers to be able to say no, set limits and take time.

As spring sets in, the elderly in their own homes have enlisted the help of volunteers with light gardening tasks like pruning bushes and cleaning the yard, as well as minor repairs to the home and , in one case, the assembly of outdoor furniture so that the elderly can enjoy their garden. .

“What would we do without the help of volunteers? Asks Myrna Tischer, Senior Services Team Leader at Better at Home, a program of OneSky Community Resources and a partner in the provincial government’s Safe Seniors, Strong Communities program.

“They are selfless people who are the backbone of a caring community – the kind of supportive community that works together to create a sense of belonging.

“Hats off to all of the wonderful volunteers who have come together to help make life a little easier for seniors over the past year and who continue to help us in the work we do. Whether it’s helping deliver groceries or hot meals, keeping seniors connected through a friendly weekly phone visit, or filling out envelopes for our monthly newsletter, every hour of volunteering helps us do more. little things that make a big difference when people are isolated at home.

If you are interested in volunteering to help older people in the area, or if you are a senior who wants to have a friendly phone conversation with someone, call the OneSky staff at 250.487.7455 Ext. 113 or 250-487-3376 for more information.

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