A Saanich-based group of volunteers is celebrating a huge milestone: 30 years of helping seniors without missing a step.
“We’ve never stopped, throughout the pandemic we never shut our doors,” said Brenda Lynn, executive director of Saanich Volunteer Services Society (SVSS). “At the beginning of the pandemic, seniors we had never heard from started calling us. Prior to the lockdown, they felt able to manage, but once it hit and they were completely isolated, they needed help.”
The SVSS is a volunteer-led group with a goal of helping to keep seniors living independently in their own homes for as long as possible. It does so by offering services such as driving to appointments, helping seniors go on grocery runs, filing income taxes, delivering prepared meals or food hampers, gardening, doing simple home repairs and making friendship phone calls.
The need for senior support was great when the group was established in 1992, and it’s still great today. SVSS has more than 770 clients on its list, and more than 200 volunteers helping out.
“Transportation has always loomed as our greatest need for seniors,” Lynn said. “But social isolation and the need to get out into community is a need that has carried forward over the years as well.”
As markets shift, another need that’s come forward over the years is food security. To ensure seniors have access to food, volunteers regularly deliver food hampers or organize transportation to and from grocery stores – something which evolved into a social event that includes a stop at the food court to eat and chat.
“The grocery shopping bus is very popular, and we’ve recently started it up again,” Lynn said. “What a joy to go on the bus! The clients get to know one another. They call each other a bus family.”
Members of SVSS carry many roles, and sometimes those roles switch. Some long-time volunteers, Lynn said, are now seniors who benefit from the SVSS’s services.
“Thirty years is a long time to stay engaged within the community, but I think we’re embedded very well.”
Anyone interested in learning more about SVSS, or volunteering, can visit saanichvolunteers.org, or call 250-595-8008.
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