Brenda Forbes has been volunteering with SOS for approximately 15 years. (Submitted photo)

COVID-19: People continue to volunteer amid pandemic

Forbes: ‘It’s more critical now’

Parksville’s Brenda Forbes continues to volunteer amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as she has done for the past 20 years because she says “it’s more critical now.”

Forbes moved to Parksville 20 years ago from Victoria after retiring and has volunteering with the Society of Organized Services for approximately 15 of those years.

A normal Wednesday for Forbes is spent delivering food with the Meals on Wheels program, something she has continued to do through the pandemic.

“I just find that it puts a smile on the client’s faces… even though now we can’t put the food in the house, but you can kind of say ‘how ya doing?’ and they’re kind of glad to hear from somebody else,” she said. “So, I think it’s really needed more than anything right now.”

READ MORE: National Volunteer Week offers deserved recognition

Forbes said she hasn’t had any second thoughts about continuing to volunteer through COVID-19, and has even started picking up additional shifts as a grocery shopper.

“For a lot of them, under normal circumstances, we’re probably the only ones they get to chat with, if they don’t have any family or anything,” she said. “They’re so grateful.”

While delivering groceries, Forbes said she has really seen how much it means to people. She said she feels lucky to be in the position she is – that she’s able to offer this help in such an important time.

“I do it because I can… to pay it forward and be a part of the community, it’s what I value – the health, safety and security for family, friends and community,” she said. “That’s who I’ve always been.”

George Godfrey, who also volunteers with Meals on Wheels and the grocery shopping program, echoed Forbes’ sentiments.

Godfrey is new to Qualicum Beach, having lived in the area for a year and a half. He said volunteering has helped him get to know the community – something he values throughout COVID-19.

“You just learn a whole lot about the community…everybody has such an interesting story,” he said. “It’s a two-way street, I get a lot out of it as well.”

Godfrey said SOS has done a good job at social distancing protocol and keeping volunteering safe – he said he’s not worried about continuing to go to his volunteer shifts.

“The clients…they’re the vulnerable ones, most often they’re quite elderly so they follow it really strictly, so it’s no problem with the rules,” he said. “As a volunteer, it’s really good, because you really know you’re doing something useful.”

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