Christine Bossi: “Sooke is known as a very volunteer-oriented community.” (File - Sooke Region Communities Health Network)

Christine Bossi: “Sooke is known as a very volunteer-oriented community.” (File - Sooke Region Communities Health Network)

COVID pivot: Sooke event aims to assess volunteer landscape

Non-Profit Think Tank brings together non-profit organizations to share experiences

A meeting of the minds will take a deep dive into the state of volunteering in Sooke in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The Non-Profit Think Tank will bring together a variety of local non-profit organizations to analyze volunteerism and share experiences on how they resolved the challenges posed by the pandemic, said Christine Bossi, executive director of the Sooke Region Communities Health Network.

“It’s also an opportunity to develop initiatives to work together to advance community goals,” said Bossi, who took over as executive director in September. “It’s been a hectic time, even with COVID, but we managed to keep a lot of our programs going, especially those for seniors.”

The Non-Profit Think Tank, which is open to all non-profits in the Sooke region, takes place June 22, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Sooke Community Hall at 2037 Sheilds Rd. Please respond to to register for attendance.

While COVID restrictions did impact volunteering, the ability to adapt and pivot was an integral part of maintaining services, Bossi said.

Although volunteers could not continue to visit seniors in their homes, connections were maintained through phone calls.

“We also did grocery shopping for seniors,” Bossi said. “Volunteers would stay on the doorstep to check in on how people were doing and interact. However, we couldn’t continue housecleaning for some seniors who felt uncomfortable with people coming into their homes (because of the pandemic).”

The seasonal tax clinic was able to remain in operation by having people drop off their information so volunteers could complete the tax returns without meeting face to face.

Some organizations continued volunteer services by installing Plexiglass, maintaining social distancing and following public health guidelines.

“Having that ability to adapt to different requests has been the key to continuing within the guidelines,” Bossi said. “We managed to keep as many of our services as we could within the public health restrictions.”

Bossi said that even with significant ease in restrictions, some volunteers are still uncomfortable meeting in person.

“Many of those people are volunteering from home, and those who want to volunteer in person are happy to do it again.”

Although it is still in its draft form, the District of Sooke’s official community plan (OCP) provides a venue for non-profits and for-profit organizations to provide input on activities and programs that would be covered by a revised OCP, Bossi said.

A volunteer fair is being planned for September, where non-profits seeking volunteers can set up booths so people interested in volunteering can learn more about volunteering opportunities.

“Sooke is known as a very volunteer-oriented community. We’re looking forward to more interactions with volunteers. Some people with hesitation may be pleasantly surprised by the different ways to contribute by volunteering,” Bossi said.

“It will also be an opportunity to show our appreciation to the volunteers for their efforts during the past couple of years,” Bossi added.

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