This week we would like to send out a special thanks to all the wonderful people who generously give their time to help people in need. Volunteer support is an essential part of the personal comfort and care that foster the feelings of belonging, dignity, and hope that are an essential part of the journey out of homelessness. Shelter Volunteers provide more than a shower, chess game, or a new pair of shoes. Shelter Volunteers show us that everyone is unique and valuable. They remind us that wherever we are, someone cares about us and wants to help.
To celebrate their gift, we’d like to introduce you to some of the unique individuals that mean so much to us:
Kyle, Carli and Erin open the Rock Bay Landing hygiene station, which allows people to access showers and the clothing room. They clean counters, fill shampoo containers, and bring in cookies we’ve made for people to enjoy. Carli’s favourite part is bringing in cookies to share, while Kyle’s favourite job is sorting donated clothes and making new friends. What’s the most important part of volunteering to them? “Be kind, be kind, be kind!”
Zohar helps people access the public computers at Rock Bay Landing. “The reason I come to volunteer each week is the joy I have from the positive interaction with staff and clients. I feel I am appreciated for making a difference each time I come. The training workshops Cool Aid offers it’s volunteers are great and have helped me understand the social issues in our community. Volunteering creates awareness and is a great way to meet different people.”
Geri facilitates an open art therapy studio at Sandy Merriman House that is open to all women, whether they reside at the shelter or not. “I come every week because I feel making art is empowering in positive, nurturing ways. I see relaxation, social interaction, and building communication skills. There is a healing component in creativity. I am motivated by the courage and emotional strength it takes to survive in poverty, isolation and homelessness. I cannot imagine myself homeless, yet I try to be aware that it is always a possibility. Things can happen to any one of us that put us in that position.”
When Eric isn’t volunteering at Cool Aid’s shelters, he is serving our community through the armed forces, volunteering with AIDS Vancouver Island’s Men’s Wellness Program, or helping people prepare for the next Times Colonist 10K as a TC10K Clinic leader. “I volunteer with the hygiene department to ensure that people have access to clean clothes, showers, and shower supplies, and have a friendly face to say hi to. My favourite part is seeing the difference that a shower and clean clothes makes in someone’s life.”
Kat and Carmelle volunteer their acupuncture skills at Cool Aid shelters. Carmelle describes her volunteer role as “a needle poker, space holder, story listener, and herb smudger. I’m giving back to the community I came from. As an inner city youth I didn’t have access to a lot of health services. its extremely rewarding to offer the support to others you wish you had. There is a kinship that exists among people with a shared experience and it makes the work healing for me, too.”
Kat is a re-defining immigrant, slow-food cyclist, free range mom and realistic acupuncturist. “Homelessness in Victoria can be anybody: a mother, brother, grandparent or youth. Taking personal responsibility for the most vulnerable individuals in our community impacts your dignity, not just
On behalf of the hundreds of people you bring smiles to every day, thank you!