For more than 25 years, Saanich Volunteer Services has been matching people who need help with people eager to provide it.

“Our primary purpose is to provide services and support to seniors in the Saanich area, to help them live well, and independently,” says volunteer services coordinator M-J Cousins.”

Saanich Volunteer Services has four part-time employees and 160 volunteers.

One of those volunteers is Donna Zwiers, who has been giving her time to Saanich Volunteer Services for 20 years.

“I originally started out being a driver, but that’s not very exciting for me. So, I slowly moved into gardening. It’s really interesting. You go to a different yard every time. At one point I was doing four clients a week,” says Zwiers.  “It really makes you feel good.”

Saanich Volunteer Services has around 900 registered clients, and of those, about half are active at any given time, according to client services coordinator, Linda Dawson Reid.

Since COVID-19, 103 clients new clients have been referred to Saanich Volunteer Services, thanks to the online resource BC211.

Helmar Prael joined Saanich Volunteer Services in 2018. Prael joined after returning from a humanitarian trip in the Dominican Republic and wanted to get involved back at home.

“Pre-COVID, I would take clients to appointments, like medical appointments, or to events.  Now … I’m doing grocery runs.  I call the clients on the phone, get a grocery list from them, then I do the shopping and then deliver it to their home.”

Giving a few hours a week means a lot to Prael.

“I have a lot of extra time on my hands right now, maybe like many other people, and I thought, why not help somebody out. Everybody wins. The clients are very happy – I even get thank you cards written by them, and I leave feeling very grateful.”

Although Prael is one of the many who donate their time to the Saanich Volunteer Services, the non-profit organization could always use more help.

“We’d love to have more volunteers,” said Dawson Reid. “We’re always looking for drivers, and of course, donations.  We always need donations to be able to keep going.”

For more information, visit www.saanichvolunteers.org.

Veronica Cooper