Since 2010 a group of dedicated volunteers have been working to develop a volunteer centre for the Sooke Region, and they’ve done it! The Sooke Region Volunteer Centre (SRVC) has opened its doors at the Sooke Child, Youth & Family Centre at 2145 Townsend Road, Sooke.
“We are really excited about this arrangement,” said SRVC chair, Marlene Barry. “Our research has confirmed that we are missing a major sector of the population without a physical location. Many seniors do not use, or have limited use of computers. An affordable, part time arrangement is a perfect place to start.”
Times certainly have changed and volunteering is changing along with it. The days when people signed up for a 20 year stint with one organization are disappearing. Economics and the Baby Boomer generation factor into these changes along with organized sports, volunteering to earn credits or beef-up your resume. In addition, the Sooke region now hosts over 200 non-profit clubs, organizations and charities. Volunteers are their life blood by way of board of directors or steering committees, not to mention all the other aspects of ‘doing what they do’. Mind you, some of these are social clubs like bridge or quilting clubs where most of the work is in the play. Whether they are setting up the tables or making the tea and cookies their members are still volunteers.
While it is yet to be determined whether we fit the claimed title of a Volunteer Capital in Canada, the Sooke region is certainly in the running! According to Elida Peers, our prized local historian, prior to World War II there were five non-profit groups in the region. These consisted of: Sooke Community Association (1935), Sooke Athletic Association (1913/14), Sooke Farmers Institute (1909), Sooke & North Sooke Women’s Institute (1909), and the Shirley Community Association. We’ve grown and so has our capacity to give.
The mission of SRVC is ‘to promote and support volunteerism in the Sooke Region’ and their vision is ‘a community where everyone volunteers’. Volunteering is more than people ‘helping out’, it is an expression of citizenship. Volunteering comes in many forms from making a casserole for a sick neighbour (informal volunteering) to more formal social engagement such as taking the lead in major projects, and everything in between. 2011 statistics show 13.3 million Canadian volunteers give on average of 156 hours/year. 7 per cent of the volunteer population give 78 per cent of volunteer hours.
According to Volunteer Canada, the top four things people are looking for when volunteering: are to utilize their skills; receive effective feedback on those skills; opportunities that provide clear roles and expectations; and training opportunities.
According to Barry, opening a ‘store-front’ for the centre has been a long process and has not been taken lightly by the committee. Research done in 2006, 2009 and 2010 by the Sooke Region Community Health Initiative (CHI) and SRVC each identified a need for a centre to support volunteers and non-profit organizations alike. Better use of scarce resources, local training opportunities, and collaborative efforts geared to the specific needs of our communities were also identified needs.
The rent and insurance for the space will be covered under the Age-Friendly Community grant, providing stability for the SRVC to move ahead with their plans to build a self-sustaining social enterprise. The space is fully accessible and will bring seniors into the family focus once more.
The tea always on. Stop by for a visit. Office hours Tuesday and Thursdays 12:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Phone number 250-250-642-6364 Ext. 235. Check out more about SRVC on the community resources website www.sookeregionresources.com