Value of the volunteer immeasurable

In honour of volunteer week the Gazette looks at several groups that rely on volunteers.

There are many organizations and groups in Grand Forks and the region that rely on volunteers. In honour of volunteer week, which goes April 6-12, the Gazette takes an in-depth look at a few of those groups.Interior HealthThe Interior Health Authority (IHA), which covers health care throughout the Kootenays and the Okanagan, has an estimated 4,800 volunteers.The Grand Forks Hospital Auxiliary to the Boundary Hospital has 100 volunteers who cover a number of jobs at the thrift shop. Fourteen of the members have been with the association for over 25 years.“We have numerous people doing numerous things like sorting that need to be done to keep the store running,” said president Carole Richmond. “Our total number of volunteer hours through 2013 was 31,648.”Last year, the auxiliary donated a total of $207,513 to IHA. Of that, $180,000 went to the new cardiac monitor for the Boundary Regional Hospital.“We also give $4,000 in scholarships a year,” said Richmond.The scholarships are for $2,000 to Grand Forks Secondary and $2,000 for Boundary Central Secondary and are earmarked for students entering a medical field.The hospital auxiliary is 100 per cent non-profit.“All the money we make goes back to Interior Health or to the community,” said Richmond. “People just like to give up a little bit of their time and we know what a big help it is. The hospital would not have the equipment it has if not for what the hospital auxiliary has donated to them. We appreciate all the donations we get.”BETHSThe Boundary extreme weather shelter in Grand Forks is operated by the Boundary Emergency and Transition Housing Society (BETHS) and relies heavily on volunteers as well.There are 24 volunteers plus seven board members for BETHS who put in many hours working on behalf of our society, said Jim Harrison, chair of BETHS.“Most of the volunteers work at the shelter between Nov.1 and March 31, 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. assisting our staff in providing intake, cleaning, minor food preparation, making up beds and working with our clients to meet their immediate needs where we can,” said Harrison.Volunteers with BETHS also assist with chores such as shopping, laundry, accounting, counseling and more.“If not for our volunteers in the 2012/13 shelter season we would not have been able to open our doors,” said Harrison. Harrison said that labour law in B.C. requires that one person cannot be alone during evening hours in public service industries and that the budget of BETHS cannot support more than one paid staff member per night to operate the shelter.Harrison said he volunteers because he has a strong belief in “what we are doing for our community and the need to help those people less fortunate than most of us.“I get a great degree of satisfaction in seeing our goals being met and our society growing. I also have a deep appreciation for all the support we enjoy in our communities,” he added.Food bankDon Todd, volunteer coordinator for the Boundary Community Food Bank, said the food bank relies heavily on their very capable volunteers.He said they have 36 volunteers who last year contributed over 2,500 hours and are on track to top that number in 2014.The food bank is open on the first four Tuesdays of the month from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.“On our pre-pack day, which is usually near the end of the month, our volunteers load non-perishables into pre-pack for approximately 150 hampers,” said Todd. “The hampers contain the nutritional staples that are available in our stockroom and are designed to help stretch an inadequate food budget by providing an addition 12 to 15 meals a month for each person.”Todd said the volunteers are motivated by many different things: empathy for those less fortunate in our community; a desire to live in a healthier, stronger, safer community and the satisfaction of being a positive contributor to their community. “Some may remember a time when they relied on a food bank themselves and wish to repay the favour,” said Todd. “Others prefer to pay it forward.” Minor hockeySports, whether it is community or high school, also rely on volunteers to fill many roles to ensure as many kids as possible can participate.Grand Forks Minor Hockey Association (GFMHA) has approximately 30 volunteers filling many varied roles such as: fundraising; organizing tournaments; managing safety and risk; organizing equipment; coordinating coaches; scheduling referees; and communication.“All of these volunteers play important roles because without the volunteers, we don’t have an association and we don’t play hockey,” said Ron Vautour, GFMHA president. “These volunteers allow us to have hockey in our community.”Vautour said he sees many reasons that people volunteer.“Sometimes they volunteer primarily because of their own kids,” he said. “Some volunteer because they recognize the need and the value for the activity and/or for the community. Some volunteers to help all of the kids and to support the community. Some see it as an act of service to the community.”

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