SOS Oceanside Better at Home volunteer Pat O’Shea (left) plays cards with client Frieda Giesbrecht during a Friendly Visit, one of the services in the program. — Lissa Alexander photo

Parksville Qualicum Beach residents counting on SOS friendly visits

Better at Home Program being celebrated during 50th anniversary

Three years ago Frieda Giesbrecht’s life changed. She began having fainting spells and could no longer go about her daily life as she once had.

“It took all my independence away,” she said. “I used to drive around Parksville and Qualicum. But then my life changed altogether.”

Although Giesbrecht is feeling much better these days, and she has the support of her family, she still doesn’t drive due to her health condition. That’s why she was so excited when her granddaughter connected her with the Oceanside Better at Home program. She has been receiving friendly visits through the program for a year and a half.

“I look forward to my visits with Pat,” said Giesbrecht. “We have so much fun together. We have become very good friends. We hit it off the minute we met.”

SOS is celebrating the Oceanside Better at Home Program throughout the month of May, as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. Clients of the program will be receiving a small gift of local tea bags, so they can enjoy a cup of tea with a friend.

Oceanside Better at Home is a partnership with the United Way of the Lower Mainland, administered by SOS, and funded by the Government of B.C. It is designed to help seniors aged 65+ remain at home by providing a range of non-medical support services.

Pat O’Shea started volunteering with SOS as a thrift shop cashier two years ago. When she heard about the program, she signed up to be a Friendly Visitor.

“I knew it was something I wanted to do. I have the time and desire to help out a little bit, so it appealed to me. I know that there are seniors out there who might be lonely or isolated and they need someone to have a visit with every now and then.”

Giesbrecht and O’Shea meet once a week and enjoy playing games together, particularly kismet and cribbage, which, O’Shea added with a chuckle, Giesbrecht always wins. They go for coffee, or out for lunch, to a local store and always share some laughs. Giesbrecht said she relies on the program.

O’Shea said she believes it’s important for a person’s well being to socialize, so she says she benefits from the program as well. She encourages others to volunteer as Friendly Visitors.

“It’s an enjoyable and meaningful way to spend a few hours a week, and it does my soul good.”

For more information about the Oceanside Better at Home program visit the SOS website,, or call 250-752-2040. For volunteer inquiries call 250-248-2093 ext. 230.

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