PAPHR honours and celebrates volunteers

Jodi Schellenberg
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During this year’s National Volunteer Week, the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region is honouring all the volunteers that help in many different areas.

The celebrations started on Monday night, with their Volunteer Long Service Awards honouring 198 individuals and organizations for their efforts and continued on Tuesday afternoon with a tea at the Travelodge.

One of the areas many volunteers help with is the nursing homes around Prince Albert, including the Herb Bassett Home and Pineview Terrace.

“I’d like to thank all of you who take time out of your day to make the lives of the residents and staff a little bit brighter,” said Nola Tucker, the director of care for the Herb Bassett Home. “Without the volunteers there would be many activities that would not be possible. Your caring and commitment to the residents of the Herb Basset Home is acknowledged and appreciated.”

Leading up to National Volunteer Week, Tucker asked both staff and residents at the nursing home to explain their feelings about volunteers.

“I was a volunteer myself when I was well and I always think about behind the scenes and what it takes to organize,” one of the resident told Tucker. “I enjoyed my time as a volunteer and now I’m on the other side and enjoy what they bring to the home every day. They play a significant role in our lives.”

The residents described the volunteers as vibrant, honest, awesome, fun, good listeners and accountable, she said.

The staff used similar descriptions, Tucker said, and one of the staff members explained the volunteers change the whole atmosphere in the home when they are there.

“As you can see, you mean a lot to the residents and the staff,” Tucker said. “The compassion you show the people you serve is an inspiration to us all. We notice how you treat everyone with respect and kindness, no matter what the situation is.”

Linda Sims, the director of Home Care, also appreciates all the hard work the volunteers do throughout the year.

“In home care, our volunteers are Meals on Wheels deliverers,” Sims said.

Last year in the health region, there were 33,364 meals delivered to people, she said. The volunteers are all committed to making it to the clients, no matter what the weather is like.

“For lots of our clients, that is the only friendly face they see every day and a hot meal they may not be able to get if it was not for you,” Sims said.

Sheron Usselman has been a Meals on Wheels volunteer for 30 years and has also been volunteering at Pineview Terrace for 10 years.

“A friend was doing Meals on Wheels and I said I would like to try it,” Usselman said. “It fills a need and I think the meal is secondary. I think the visit, someone stopping in, is really, really important for some people.

“I think that may be the only hello they get, the only person they see,” she added. “I feel that is really important. Who knows, maybe one day I will need that service.”

Volunteering also gives the volunteers the feeling they have helped someone in need, she said.

“I’m sure I get as much from it as I’m sure I give,” Usselman said. “I think it is a wonderful service and I hope it goes on forever.”

Another long time volunteer is Vera Wolkosky, who has been volunteering her time at the hospital and the cancer office for about 22 years.

“I work in one of the therapy departments -- I do sewing quilts and aprons,” Wolkosky said.

The department will take the items and sell them to use the money for taking the patients on outings to lift their spirits, she said.

“It is something to do and give back -- I enjoy it,” Wolkosky said. “You meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends.”

One of the things Wolkosky enjoys the most is meeting people who are not well and being able to see them again down the road when they are feeling better. She has also received cards from some of the patients she has met, giving her updates on their lives, which is rewarding.

“I really enjoy it,” Wolkosky said. “Hopefully I can keep it up for a few more years.”

Sonya Jahn, the director of Volunteer Services, said the region appreciated all the volunteers do and they are looking for more people to help if they can especially through the newest initiative -- the Peer Navigator program.

“It was established in British Columbia, the first place in Canada,” Jahn said. “Because rumour has it that we have a nice, strong volunteer base within (PAPHR), they have decided they wanted to pilot this Peer Navigator program in the health region.”

The volunteers would help cancer patients by sharing resources and information. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Volunteer Services.

Celebrations for the volunteers will continue at various locations in the health region throughout the rest of April.

Organizations: Volunteer Long Service, Travelodge, Prince Albert Home Care Volunteer Services

Geographic location: British Columbia, Canada

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