You could say Verna Jenkins’s volunteer work for Nanaimo Regional General Hospital has been as good as gold.
The Parksville woman was recognized for 50 years of volunteer service recently when Island Health hosted its long service awards gala at Coast Bastion Inn in Nanaimo.
“It’s just nice to go down there and socialize and be involved in things,” said Jenkins. “It’s helping the community. If they didn’t have volunteers to do things like man the gift shop, they wouldn’t be able to keep it running.”
Jenkins, 83, also has 46 years of service as a volunteer with the Society of Organized Services (SOS) in Parksville, and volunteered for the local fire department, where her son served. The mother of three has four granddaughters and five great-grandchildren.
She is a life member of the NRGH Hospital Auxiliary. She actually joined the auxiliary in 1960, but “I didn’t start volunteering until the mid-60s,” Jenkins said. Most of her work has been helping out in the hospital’s gift shop.
“At one time we delivered mail, but they took that from us. It got so heavy they had to hire a part-time person.”
Asked about the differences she has seen at the hospital in the past five decades, Jenkins said she has found it to be remarkably consistent, with one unfortunate exception.
“There hasn’t been much change in the hospital, actually, except now there’s no parking,” she said. “I get a free pass, but still I sometimes can’t find any parking.”
Jenkins keeps fit and active through golf, bowling and walks, and plans to continue her volunteer work at the hospital into a sixth decade.
“I’ll do it as long as I’m able,” she said. “As long as I can still drive and go there.”