Mike Thomas organizing packs of soup cans at the Sooke Food Bank.

Mike Thomas organizing packs of soup cans at the Sooke Food Bank.

Volunteer works to make community a better place

Like countless others in the Sooke community, Mike Thomas can’t really stand still

It’s not unheard of in Sooke to see a group of people collecting cans on the side of the road, washing cars, feeding the needy at the food bank, or making pancakes for students at local schools.

Question is, who are these people, these often-unseen volunteers who give up their own free time for their community?

Well, like countless others in the Sooke community, Mike Thomas can’t really stand still. He’s always out and about, whether it’s organizing cans and filling hampers at the Sooke Food Bank, or doing maintenance work at the local museum.

In 1983, he joined the Sooke Lions club and for the past 33 years has worked on a laundry list of projects, including the playground at Murray Road Park, Sooke Cemetery, Camp Shawnigan, delivering Christmas hampers, even providing security at the Sooke Fine Arts Show. He’s also a central organizer for the Hard Times Dance, one of Sooke’s  most prolific and longest-running music events.

As such, Thomas earned himself a few acknowledgments over the years, such as Sooke’s volunteer pin, Hospice Volunteer of the Year, a spot on the Town Criers statue at Ogden Point, and as a centerfold in Seniors Magazine.

But being a volunteer is not about fame, it’s about doing something using the kindness of one’s heart without expecting anything back in return.

“We all know that volunteers are not in it for the recognition, just a desire to serve,” Thomas said.

Among his ongoing volunteer work is his time at the Sooke Food Bank, which, thanks to his efforts and all the others working there, has helped feed 3,528 families last year in Sooke, a number he said keeps growing.

The things he’s done to help the local community goes even further afield. After learning the Sooke Hospice Society needed some much-needed support, Thomas completed a long walk from Gold River to Tahsis several times, which gathered interest from other Sooke residents as well.

Sooke Hospice is a society of volunteers who provide physical, emotional and spiritual care for individuals suffering a terminal illnesses. Thomas’ walks helped raise funds for the society’s ongoing services in Sooke.

And, despite all that, he still can’t really idle by. When he’s not at the food bank, he works with other volunteers to help steer the Sooke Christmas Bureau, another initiative to feed the local community.

Thomas described this experience as “hectic, but rewarding to see the town and area come together every year in support of this much needed event.”

He’s also got a taste for theatre. In 1982, he was instrumental in founding the Stage West Players (now known as the Sooke Harbour Players).

Whether it’s another pancake breakfast, or a Hard Times Dance, or organizing a new arrival of food cans, one thing is certain: Sooke is full of “quiet” volunteers like Thomas, and could always use a few more.

“It’s rewarding to get out there and help the community, because if none of us did, we’d have a place of just streets and houses, and nothing else.”

 

Just Posted

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Island Savings kick-starts the Equipped to Heal campaign with $120,000. (Courtesy Victoria Hospitals Foundation)
Latest Victoria Hospitals Foundation campaign targets $1M for mental health

Goal is to outfit new 19-bed unit at Eric Martin Pavilion

Shaelyn Sinnott of Oak Bay Volunteer Services delivers groceries for client Irene Kenny. The organization has kept up delivery of food and medication throughout all phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Oak Bay Volunteer Services)
Oak Bay volunteers keep critical services running

Duo drove between Oak Bay and Jubilee three days a week, twice a day during pandemic

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read