Opinion

Seniors celebrate volunteers

Volunteer Mark Phillips cuts the lawn at the facility, one of his many duties. - ORLANDO DELANO/Special to the News
Volunteer Mark Phillips cuts the lawn at the facility, one of his many duties.
— image credit: ORLANDO DELANO/Special to the News

“I was born next door, in the old General Hospital,” said Mark Phillips, an active community volunteer, while chatting with others in the Abbeyfield living room.

“I am 57 years old and I have lived most of my life here in the Valley.  I also lived in Victoria for 25 years and I had travelled across Canada five times, all the way to Newfoundland.”

While in Victoria, Phillips volunteered at the old Gorge Road Hospital (since closed) at the geriatric unit, and at the James Bay Seniors Home for four years. He says that he came back, in part, because of his family.

For almost a decade, Phillips has been involved in assisting the seniors and the staff of Abbeyfield Port Alberni.

His duties are varied, especially now that spring is here, he mows the Abbeyfield lawns almost weekly; he does maintenance work as needed; he spends time talking and socializing with the residents in the hallways, dining room,  etc.  He is also very well-known in all the Valley senior homes for his musical talent.

Phillips, who has a strong and melodious voice, also plays a wide variety of instruments such as guitar, bass, steel guitar, violin, banjo, ukulele.

“I usually play with bands, like “Highway 4”, my new group, he says.

Phillips has  been involved with several musical groups entertaining  the seniors in their homes and  others in the community at sessions at the Harbour Quay in the summer.

“My mother, Marlene Dietrich, a dedicated volunteer in Port Alberni, has been the best example for me on what volunteers can do to make a better community”, he said.

“She spends hours and hours in tasks needed to be done.”

According to statistics, in Canada there are 13.3 million volunteers. In our community we are blessed by the good spirit of the citizens who give their time and effort to assist and support others.

This is particularly evident in the homes for seniors in the Valley, where people like Mark Phillips, make a difference in the lives of the men and women of these homes.

Thousands of hours are given by them annually by providing entertainment, in the form of musical programs, art sessions and through regular visits to the homes by individuals and organizations.

Also, most of the care homes count on volunteer drivers to take residents back to their community and enjoy concerts, recitals, bazaars and other events of their interest.

Each organization that care for the elderly and has the mandate  to govern and advocate for senior centres and homes in our Valley is made up of volunteers who perform their job in order to maintain and enhance the quality of life of residents and participants. Just imagine what these homes would do without the volunteers.

“Volunteering is a part of what we are as Canadians” was a statement by the National Volunteer Week Committee. “The volunteers strengthen our communities and make our country vibrant.”

Annually, the celebration of the volunteers across the country  is to recognize the tremendous impact they have in our society and how much we all appreciate their efforts.

Seniors in the Valley organize events to express their appreciation to each and all the thousands of volunteers who serve our community.

Last week, Heritage Place and Abbeyfield saluted their volunteers at a special event.

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