Personal Best: Salute to the volunteers

Pat Black sings the praises of the volunteers — without them, most communities would come to a standstill

Last week was National Volunteer Week. So, you say, big deal, another something or other named week meaning nothing to some people. But think about it. Where would we be without volunteers? No one at the hospital to guide us to different locations and to assist all departments with registration, delivering flowers, pushing wheel chairs, Also what about all the volunteers at our crisis line and helping people with mental health problems and delivering meals and visiting lonely and chronically sick people. The list goes on and on. And most of these essential volunteers are seniors, some into their ‘80s.

It is amusing when a younger person wonders what seniors do with all the time they have when they retire. It reminds me of that old saying “Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.” As examples of what some volunteers do I would like to feature a few stories. The following volunteers work at helping seniors at the Seniors Assisting Seniors Program at the Seniors Bureau, and this tribute was paid to them by Jennifer Guscott, Senior Services coordinator:

Elisheva Benjamin volunteers Wednesday afternoons in Senior Services. She coordinates ordering information pamphlets for display in the main reception area and ensures we are fully stocked.  Every Wednesday she places Quality of Services calls to clients who have received a service from our program. Clients appreciate receiving calls and hearing her cheery voice. Conducting quality of service calls has helped us improve service to seniors. As needed, she also waters plants in the Nexus office.

Elisheva has a very active volunteer life outside of Nexus.  She is president of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Vernon unit, and is a very busy individual during April’s daffodil month.  She volunteers with the Community Mental Health Association (Vernon) in the Peer Support Program, writes articles for their Grapevine News Letter and cooks with a chef meals for 30 people on Fridays. For the last five years, she has been a Friendly Visitor for a 93-year- young senior. Every Saturday they go for a short walk which is coupled with tea and a chat. She is truly a valuable contributor to our community.

Joyce and Stella volunteer in our offices on Thursdays. They are our longest volunteers with our program, well over 14 years each. They are our resident experts on income tax, Canada Pension, Guaranteed Income Supplement,  Old Age Security and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters, to name a few.  Over the years they have provided assistance to countless number of seniors in filling out challenging application forms and providing assistance in helping seniors navigate through the challenging paper process of governments. They are strong senior advocates. They are the co-leads/coordinators for the free Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) that helps low-income seniors (60+) complete their basic income tax returns. The program started in 2005. That year we completed 141 returns; we are now averaging 350 returns a year.  (About 3,000 returns completed in 10 years). Our target for this year is about 375 returns, and as of April 9 we were at 300. We have 14 individuals working on the CVITP.

They are great contributors to our community and seniors who freely share their talents.

Many thanks to all senior volunteers who help this city function and make this community the great place it is. Call the Volunteer Bureau at 250- 545-0585 if you can spare a few hours and want to be rewarded with a large dose of self esteem, community appreciation and human gratitude.

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If you have any questions or comments email: blackmail1@telus.net or phone 250-542-7928.