Lee Ann Lambert started volunteering at Lions Gate Hospital four years ago.

Coastal volunteers inform, amaze and inspire others in their communities

“I find everyone here so inspiring, they’re an amazing group of people.”

That, in a nutshell is what has got North Shore volunteer and Lions Gate Hospital Auxiliary member Lee Ann Lambert out of bed and off to LGH for more than 2,300 hours over the last four years. She’s not only talking about the care staff and physicians at the hospital, she’s also referring to her fellow volunteers, many with 10, 20, 30 or more years of service at LGH.

This type of jaw-dropping selflessness is admirable and can be a little humbling, with the 500 North Shore volunteers contributing more than 42,000 hours to a variety of VCH facilities and programs last year. From acute care and residential care to adult day centres and community health clinics, you’ll find volunteers helping comfort thousands of people making their way through the medical system.

Thankfully this kind of commitment to neighbours can be found in a number of communities within Coastal as volunteers play a prominent role in the lives of patients and clients on the Sunshine Coast, in Powell River and up and down the Sea-to-Sky Corridor.

Volunteers a lifeline for Sunshine Coast residents

It’s this same feeling of appreciation and amazement felt by Lee Ann that strikes Volunteer Coordinator Ceri Bowles, each time she comes into her office to schedule Sunshine Coast volunteers for their shifts as volunteer drivers for patients, Meals on Wheels and even grocery shopping and delivery.

“We have a group of 15 – 20 volunteer drivers who truly are life-savers,” says Ceri. Between them, this group helped Sunshine Coast patients make 378 trips to physicians and other medical specialists last year, with about half of those being trips to/from Vancouver.

“Even after a 12-hour day of driving someone to and from Vancouver, many of these folks also make time to help out with our Meals on Wheels program (350 meals delivered per month) and do grocery shopping and delivery for our shut-ins,” she adds.

And these numbers are on top of the 500 or so members of the Sunshine Coast Health Care Auxiliary who not only give time and effort to the gift store, the loan cupboard and other fundraising but also help out in the Auxiliary’s Thrift Store as well. Yes, life on the Sunshine Coast would be very different without volunteers as well.

Sea-to-Sky support shines through

Because of their kindness and compassion, volunteers in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor make an impact in their community far beyond their numbers. Volunteer Coordinator Nicole Carothers is still in awe of the, “generosity of spirit and the gift of their time,” made by the 60 or so Squamish Hospice Society volunteers each year.

Taking on roles from visiting people for in-home hospice and bereavement support to delivering workshops in the community and fundraising for the organization, the Hospice Society supporters continually impress Nicole.

“Everything within the Hospice Society hinges on this inspiring group of people,” she says. That includes organizing a Memory Tree event each November, bringing comfort and a sense of shared compassion for all residents who’ve experienced a loss.

North Shore benefits from wide variety of volunteers roles 

While Lee Ann started out doing volunteer wayfinding, she’s been able to try several other volunteer roles over the last few years, expanding the network of people she’s met and increasing her sense of community and commitment to LGH as well as the Auxiliary.

“We’ve now got such a wide variety of roles available for volunteers to try here on the North Shore,” says Volunteer Services Manager Rocio Andrews.

It’s this variety of tasks, and the sense of appreciation and “making a difference” that keeps Lee Ann coming back week after week.

“When I see someone come into the main lobby, often they’re anxious and feeling a bit lost,” says Lee Ann. “If each of us as volunteers can be a friendly face and help them out it can make a difference to them being a little calmer and more prepared for whatever they’re at the hospital for,” she explains.

“I’ve volunteered at various places in my life,” she recalls, “but volunteering at LGH has definitely been the most rewarding.”

For more information, or to get involved as a volunteer at a variety of facilities within the Coastal community of care, go to http://www.vch.ca/get-involved/volunteer