The Alberni Valley is blessed with hundreds of volunteers who day after day give their time to assist their fellow citizens. This fact is seen in people of all ages, especially senior citizens who contribute so much to the well being of others.
Wilma Walker is an example of a giving spirit in our community. Among others, she has been involved in various organizations to provide support to their peers.
Wilma, who has lived in Port Alberni for several decades, was born in Saskatoon to grain farmer parents (with a backup beef cattle), and attended a one-room school for Grades 1–8.
“I believe that all children should experience life on a farm,” she says.
Upon completing Grades 9–12 at a large high school in Saskatoon, she went to teachers’ college. “After college I went to Carrot River in northern Saskatchewan and taught there for one year.”
In search of new “greener pastures,” as she puts it, life took her from Saskatchewan all the way to the West Coast. “What happened is that I attended one year at the University of Saskatchewan and while there, my girlfriend and I decided to apply for teaching positions in BC….we chose three communities where one of us or both of us had a relative….just in case! We were both hired in Port Alberni. She left after one year. I’m still here!”
Wilma’s first job was at Cherry Creek Elementary, a position she held for nine years. During this time her daughter was born so she decided to resign and stay home with her.
But when her daughter was in full time school, Wilma went back to teaching, first, by substituting, and later in 1980, by getting a teaching position at Eighth Avenue School, which she held until her retirement in 2003.
“I found myself quite at a loss for things to do by about October 2003. I happened to notice an ad in the newspaper by Community Policing for office people. I popped in the Third Avenue office [since closed] and filled in an application. I started immediately.” A year later she joined the Sunshine Club because “I wanted to partake in some of the wonderful trips they had available.”
Her involvement in the Sunshine Club has become quite extensive ever since. Throughout all these years, she has worked in the club office, held the positions of Mahjong director, membership director, as well as a member of the executive for one term.
“I am still a member and I continue taking part in some of the fun activities of the club. I have met wonderful people there. I hope we get back soon!”
Her disposition to give her time and assist others, went beyond her duties with the Sunshine Club. She also volunteered in the Canadian Cancer Society office and helped out at a pre-school at Eighth Avenue School.
About 2011, Community Policing opened up an office at the Harbour Quay. As a strong supporter of the value of this organization, Wilma decided to rejoin the organization by partaking in a few different tasks. She continues volunteering there.
Currently, she is also a spare for the Friendly Phone Service–phoning seniors and shut-ins two or three times a month to check on their wellbeing.
Also, for several years Wilma has been giving her time on the committee for the annual charity golf tournament at Alberni Golf Club, an event that takes place every July, by working with the silent auction coordinators of this fundraising event.
Gerry Fagan, who has volunteered along with Wilma at the cancer society, Community Policing and the golf classic, recently stated: “Wilma is one of the most dedicated and reliable volunteers I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the last several years.”
“Volunteering is not only a benefit to the community but is good for the wellbeing of the volunteer. It beats sitting at home and you meet the best of our society,” says Wilma.