For Dixie Russill, volunteering was the best way to get connected in new communities when she and her husband were transferred for work several times in western Canada. Now retired and living in West Kelowna for 15 years, Dixie has continued to volunteer and has been with the Kelowna General Hospital for 6 years and both she and her husband volunteer as Kelowna Airport (YLW) Ambassadors.
“We have been at YLW for 10-and-a-half years, greeting and assisting people. During COVID, these activities were halted, but we have been back since May and the transition has been very good,” explains Dixie. “My volunteer position at KGH hasn’t been reinstated yet because I meet individually with pre- and post-heart surgery patients and it is still too dangerous for me to do this because of COVID.”
Dixie’s happiest volunteering day came about when she was able to combine her two roles. “During a conversation with a post heart patient at KGH I asked how he was travelling back to his home in Prince George, BC and he told me he would return on a commercial bus,” reminisces Dixie. “I knew from having the same heart surgery that this would not be feasible and told him that would be too difficult and would take too many hours after his major surgery. He told me he couldn’t afford any other way home.”
“That is when I recalled a YLW Ambassador luncheon where the guest speaker was Dave McElroy, a Kelowna pilot with HOPE Air,” continues Dixie. “He told us about this wonderful organization who provide medical travel assistance for free to Canadians in financial need. I immediately made a phone call to HOPE Air and was able to arrange for this patient and also his son to be flown back to Prince George, BC at no cost. That was my BEST volunteer day EVER!”
Volunteering gives Dixie a purpose in life and allows her to be involved in the community and to meet not only local people, but people from all over the world. She has also learned that there are so many wonderful people out there that are truly grateful for any assistance she can give them. “In both my volunteer positions I meet people who are feeling stressed,” says Dixie. “I find myself feeling so much happier and better about myself if in some small way I have been able to help people and possibly easer their concerns. Sometimes people just need to talk to someone.”
If you are looking for purpose and a meaningful way to be engaged, come to the 25th Anniversary Volunteer Fair this coming Saturday from 10:00 – 2:00 pm. Along with Kelowna General Hospital and Kelowna Airtport, there will be over 75 organizations sharing their volunteer opportunities and looking to connect with great community spirits. The event takes place at Parkinson Recreation Centre and is free to attend. There will also be many great door prizes to win. For more information and a list of participating organizations, check out the Get Involved magazine in your Capital News or online at www.kcr.ca/volunteers.
Dorothee Birker is the communications and development coordinator for KCR Community Resources. If you are interested in sharing your volunteer or organizational news, please contact Dorothee at email@example.com.