At the Cook Street Village Activity Centre, volunteers play a vital role in operations.Cook Street Village Activity Centre executive director Carol Turnbull. “We, on average, work with about 200 volunteers a year.” With about 3,500 registered societies and non-profits in Greater Victoria alone, volunteering can take many forms.“Volunteers are incredibly important for us here at the centre,” explains
And it’s something that’s transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic.“We’ve seen a surge of people interested in volunteering in gardens and nature trails and wanting to volunteer outside so they’re with other people but completely safe,” says Volunteer Victoria executive director Lisa Mort-Putland.
Working outside at a safe distance is considered low-contact volunteering. But opportunities can be tailored to your COVID concern level — and there are also ‘no contact’ or virtual volunteering positions.“That’s an opportunity to engage in a community where you don’t meet with another person, so telephone reassurance calls or picking up groceries from curbside pick up and dropping them off outside,” Lisa says. “It may be doing an activity at home or it may be engaging in committee work from home.” Next month’s Victoria Film Festival — a hybrid of online and in person — is looking for both box office and theatre help, as well as virtual volunteers for tech support. “They’ll be helping the guests and customers of the festival to troubleshoot their devices at home,” explains Nataliia Kuksa, the Victoria Film Festival’s operations manager. “There will be several questions at home, How can I view this film on my smart TV, how can I watch on my tablet? and we’ll provide training.” It’s just one of the dozens of opportunities currently available on the Volunteer Victoria website. “There’s always something new and if people don’t see a volunteer position on our website that they like, they can meet with one of our advisers and we can help create a volunteer position for them,” Lisa says. Back at the Cook Street Village Activity Centre, they’re planning to do more virtual wellness and check in calls to make sure seniors feel connected.
“As the pandemic has gone on, and as we have fewer activities happening on site, we’re going to be returning to more check in calls so folks can have that point of connection and know that they’ve got somebody out here that cares,” Carol says.