Volunteers needed at the J.W. MacIntosh Seniors’ Support Centre

Cathy Tupper, left, team leader and transportation co-ordinator, Sam Locke, centre, chair of the board of directors and Tracy Crowder, executive director of J.W. MacIntosh Seniors’ Support Centre welcome people in our area to join them as volunteers at the Centre, helping to make a real difference in the lives of many members of this community. (The Leader/Gibb photo)

WILLIAMSBURG – “Once you’re involved with volunteering, it’s very satisfying and rewarding,” said Sam Locke, chair of the board of directors of the J. W. MacIntosh Seniors’ Support Centre in Williamsburg. “I’ve been a volunteer for nine years: I really enjoy volunteering, and I meet fascinating people with wonderful stories to share.

I wanted to give back to the community. Actually, most of my family are now also volunteers as well.”

Currently the J. W. MacIntosh Seniors’ Support Centre has 167 active volunteers, but there is a real and desperate need for more to keep the many programs offered at the Centre effectively running.

“We did have nearly 200 volunteers,” explained Cathy Tupper, team leader and transportation co-ordinator at the Centre.

“However, illness, final retirement, traveling south and other time demands have left us with an almost 20 per cent decline in our volunteer numbers.”

From April 1 to December 31, 2017, Meals on Wheels from the Centre delivered 4, 711 meals to clients. Volunteers drove clients to 358 dialysis appointments, to 934 medical appointments, provided 91 trips for social and shopping, and made 1,424 trips taking clients to and from the Day Away program in Williamsburg. With volunteers working in foot care, reception and at the Satellite diners, volunteers logged some 5,212 hours at the Centre.

“We have had a great increase in the number of people needing our services,” said Tracy Crowder, executive director of the Centre, “particularly for needed medical appointments and dialysis. We are driving clients to Winchester, to Ottawa and to Brockville all to best serve people’s needs. We’re taking three to four drives every day.

Unfortunately, we are getting to the point where we don’t have enough drivers even to meet our medical appointments. And we worry about burning out our present volunteers by increasing their runs.”

The primary need, according to both Tupper and Crowder, is for drivers.

Eastern Ontario has one of the highest aged populations in the province, but is also one of the lowest income areas. The need for help is there and is growing every month.

“We are hoping to encourage newly retired people to volunteer with us; people with just a little free time on their hands who could come out and help us would be wonderful,” Crowder said.

Volunteering at the Centre doesn’t actually constitute a huge time commitment.

Just two hours a month relieves the pressure on other volunteers, and means “the world to our clients,” Tupper said.

“Sometimes that volunteer is the only social contact a client may have on a regular basis. There is peace of mind for clients’ families too.”

The Centre organizers are very flexible in setting up schedules for volunteers, making every effort to accommodate volunteers’ own wishes and plans.

The Centre would also be glad to welcome volunteers willing to help out at reception, with setting up special events, serving on the board, or making phone calls.

“We have a place for anyone who is willing to help,” said director Crowder.

To be a volunteer you must be a licensed driver (mileage is reimbursed), and have a vulnerable sector check. You must also be willing to commit to a minimum of two hours a month, though those hours can be flexible.

To become a volunteer at the J. W. MacIntosh Seniors’ Support Centre contact Cathy Tupper at 613-535-2924 or cathy.tupper@wnphc.ca