Volunteer Recognition Week – April 24 to 28, 2017
By Vicki Melville Bathurst
Volunteering is big business in Greater Victoria, and this is the week to give thanks for all volunteers do in our community. Volunteer Victoria’s website states that in working with over 300 local organizations in 2015 they served more than 700 volunteers, and more than 3000 new volunteers registered with them online.
The Cridge Centre for the Family is western Canada’s oldest registered non-profit society and still operates out of the same beautiful brick mansion on Hillside Avenue that was built in 1893 as an orphanage. The Cridge now has a number of locations in Greater Victoria, and it’s services include child care, supportive housing and services for families in crisis, respite care services for children with disabilities and support for their parents, a residence for survivors of Brain Injury, as well as the Seniors’ Assisted Living Housing which is now located in the original home.
As a volunteer “wannabe” myself, after selling my business ten years ago, I began looking for something to do — somewhere I could use my skills and make a difference in someone else’s life. A volunteer posting in the Times Colonist caught my eye and brought me to The Cridge Centre for the Family. I was immediately inspired by the deep and widespread roots of this organization, and the many, many people it assists and supports. The Cridge Centre for the Family has a large group of volunteers who are key to many of their programs.
My job for the past eight months has been to meet with some of these volunteers to learn about their volunteer jobs, and why they volunteer. I first met with Emily at Macdonald House, a Cridge residence for Brain Injury survivors. As Emily was a student, I assumed she was volunteering for university course credits, so was surprised to hear that volunteering is something that has always been a part of her life, not only to give back, but because of what it gives back to her.
This week you will have the opportunity to hear from some of The Cridge volunteers who offer a wide variety of services to the community. From the Moving Team, who all came to The Cridge through Glad Tidings Church, to Jessica who helps organize the annual Brain Injury Conference at the University of Victoria, and Marj who bakes weekly for the women in The Transition House, all were drawn by the desire to give back to their community – and have stayed because of the caring and compassion they found amongst the staff and volunteers at The Cridge. From the group I call “Mimi’s Happy Volunteers”, who meet monthly at The Cridge to stuff and decorate baskets for The Cridge Respitality Program, I was told that “The Cridge is the happiest place on earth, a place where people are loved for WHO they are, and not WHAT they are.”
Stay tuned for their stories – I hope they’ll make you feel good, and maybe, just maybe, they might encourage you to expand and enrich your own life by volunteering. As Marj so clearly puts it, “maybe The Cridge isn’t the place for everyone, but I firmly believe that there is a volunteer job somewhere in this community that will make you feel good about yourself, and allow you to connect and strengthen your community at the same time.”