When George Godfrey moved to the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, he didn’t want to sit on the sidelines, he wanted to contribute to his new community. Four years later, he continues to see great value in volunteering with SOS.
“I learned quickly of SOS and the unique role it plays in providing the community-wide safety net,” he said. “It gets me out of the house two days a week — a benefit to my wife also — doing something that makes me feel useful. It gives me a focus every week.”
April 24 to April 30 is National Volunteer Week.
The theme this year is ‘Volunteering Is Empathy In Action’, highlighting the connection between volunteerism and empathy. According to Volunteer Canada, volunteering makes people feel happier, healthier, more welcome and better connected to their communities. It also helps people develop empathy: to see the world through the eyes of others, connect people from diverse backgrounds, and expand people’s views.
Godfrey has volunteered as a driver in several areas at SOS — the SOS Meals On Wheels program, the Medical Appointment Transportation Service, and in the Oceanside Better at Home program. He said delivering groceries and meals has helped him become more familiar with the geography of the region, and he enjoys meeting and assisting many residents.
Rae Davies has volunteered with the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program and is currently helping people file their taxes as part of the SOS Income Tax Program. She likes that she is able to put her talents toward a greater good, and she agrees that assisting residents is rewarding work.
“It is very heartwarming to hear the expressions of gratitude from people who are benefitting from the assistance they have received,” she said. “Also, I know that my contributions are appreciated by SOS, and the staff have been wonderful to work with.”
SOS started as a volunteer organization in 1968 and continues to rely on volunteers to help deliver vital programs and strengthen the social safety net of the community. SOS volunteer co-ordinator Heather Jones said that before the pandemic, SOS had approximately 350 volunteers, and today that number sits near 200.
“We have been welcoming back more volunteers this year as we work to return our program offerings to pre-pandemic levels,” she said. “We’re currently recruiting volunteers in a number of areas, and we look forward to reviving our volunteer appreciation events soon so we can connect with current volunteers and new ones!”
Jones said that even though the volunteer numbers have been lower than in previous years, SOS volunteers still logged more than 6,500 hours in the last fiscal year, which SOS estimates has a monetary value of about $130,000 (at $20 per hour).
“If you think of it in those terms, that is an amazing amount of support offered by our volunteers and an incredible resource for our community,” she said. “But the work our volunteers do is really invaluable. They bring so much wisdom, creativity and positivity to our programs and to our Thrift Shop, they enrich so many lives.”
During National Volunteer Week, SOS is highlighting volunteers on social media, collecting their feedback and providing treats and a prize draw.
For more information on volunteering with SOS, visit www.sosd69.com.