Volunteers are part of the ripple effect

This is National Volunteer Week, April 12-18. Are you doing your part?

Joining Ben Lee

The Kelowna General Hospital Foundation hostS a Volunteer Fair on Saturday, April 18,10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kelowna General Hospital’s Centennial Building lobby.

The event will offer the general public information about the foundation, and to learn what volunteer opportunities are available with the foundation to assist the hospital.

There will also be free parking available in the Rose Avenue parkade.

The foundation’s current volunteer roster ranges in age from 14 to 98. “There is no age discrimination to volunteer with us,” said Wells.

•••

Joy Henderson has been working as a volunteer at Kelowna General Hospital for the past 15 years.

The 79-year-old Kelowna resident doesn’t get paid for her volunteer time, but the difference it makes to her own life and to those who require the need of hospital services more than make up for that.

“I got involved with the hospital because I had other friends who were volunteering there when I started out. I’ve enjoyed it ever since, meeting a lot of nice people and people telling you all the time how much they appreciate what you are doing for the hospital and for them,” Henderson said.

“There is always a good feeling that goes along with giving back.”

Henderson can be found with her three co-volunteers every Thursday afternoon working behind the counter of the Royal Bistro, cooking up on the grill whatever is ordered from the menu.

People familiar with the hospital will remember it previously as The Snackery prior to the expansion of the hospital in recent years.

“Often people come in there, they are alone and (their friend, family member or spouse) is in the hospital being treated for something, and the may well be from out of town given KGH is a regional hospital.

“I they really need is someone to talk to or meet, to have a place to go for a break. It’s times like that it feels like a really worthwhile process what we do in our own little corner of the hospital.”

Henderson is one of about 800 volunteers who support a variety of services under the auspices of the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, from working at various venues in the hospital like the gift shop, Royal Bistro and the Perking Lot, to the Rutland Auxiliary Thrift Shop and at Cottonwoods Care Home.

They collectively are the core support group that allows the foundation to provide services that raise money for the hospital to buy new equipment or fulfill other patient care needs.

For example, the Rutland Auxiliary Thrift Shop, staffed  by volunteers,  has donated more than $3.5 million to the hospital since it was founded 52 years ago.

Nancy Wells, business enterprises manager for the KGH Foundation, said its volunteers that allow the foundation to operate several business enterprises to help with fundraising and providing services to patients and those visiting the hospital.

“To have a gift shop, the coffee kiosk, the Royal Bistro, the engraving business which is part of the gift shop, right on site is not normal for most hospitals,” Well said.

“I’m always being asked how we managed to do that.”

Part of the reason for that is because those services are volunteer-driven, where opportunities are presented to volunteer for as little or as many hours as you wish.

“It’s all about paying something forward. Everyone has a fit with us. Some people don’t want a lot of responsibility,”Wells said.

“ They just want a task to do for four hours a week, whether retired or not, and go home and relax. Others may have led an active work lifestyle and retired but still want to remain active and involved.”

The latter characteristic is often seen among babyboomers who are retiring at a younger age than the previous generation but still have a lot of energy to give in some way to their community.

“We never have enough volunteers so there is always a way to make someone fit a need that we have and that fits in with their background or interest,” he said.

•••

Sandra Moglin has been volunteering at the Rutland Auxiliary Thrift Shop, located on Dougall Rd. South near Highway 33, for about five years, currently serving as the manager for the store.

Moglin had worked in a bank most of her life, and when she and her husband retired to Kelowna from Saskatchewan, she saw the auxiliary thrift shop as a way to volunteer and keep herself busy.

“I was just always used to doing something. I couldn’t just sit at home and do nothing,” she laughed.

Moglin, 72, said her story is similar to many of the volunteer staff at the thrift shop, they just like to get out and share some female companionship and pride in making a worthwhile contribution to the hospital and their community.

“Most of us are in the 50 to 70 age range. We have one lady who has volunteered 37 years for the auxiliary and many others who have been with us a long time,” Moglin said.

“We really feel good about what we are doing and gives us an opportunity to raise money for the hospital, as health care services are something that we or people close to each of us will all need at some point in our lives.”

Another connection on some level with most of their volunteers is the donations raised remain in the community, and benefit something has carries a real identity for people—their hospital.

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