Volunteers give their time, energy and passion to community causes, and in an effort to recognize all they do, the Veiner Centre is turning the focus to them during Volunteer Appreciation Week.
“Volunteers are extremely important to us,” Veiner Centre director, Cori Fischer, told the News. “Without (volunteers), we literally would not be open and could not exist. So how do you say ‘thank you?’ How do you say how much you appreciate them? You just try to do as much as you possibly can and let them know, on a regular basis, they’re wonderful and amazing.”
The Veiner Centre, which has around 100 volunteers, 55 of whom are part of the Meals on Wheels program, has celebrated Volunteer Appreciation Week annually for many years. Many centre staff and volunteers however, are partaking for the first time since the Kirby Centre took over operations in September 2021.
“This is our first Volunteer Appreciation Week,” said Fischer. “And we’re hoping to get bigger and better to make sure our volunteers know just how valuable they are on a regular basis.”
Throughout the week volunteers were showered with a variety of treats, such as coffee, tea and baked goods, raffle prizes and one-year unlimited car wash memberships at Mint Smartwash on Dunmore Road.
“We were absolutely thrilled when Mint Smartwash came and said, ‘Let’s do a partnership,'” Fischer said. “This is an amazing partnership which is allowing us to find a way to let our volunteers know how much we appreciate the hard work that they do … We’re very appreciative.”
Mint Smartwash area manager Jarrett Smith believes the partnership is a great way to celebrate not only Veiner Centre volunteers, but his operations’ upcoming one-year anniversary since opening in Medicine Hat.
“We’re always looking to partner with charitable organizations in the cities we work in and this one fit particularly well because we’re a vehicle maintenance organization and they have volunteers who are using their vehicles and have the burden of the cost for that,” Smith told the News. “So we’re providing a service directly to those volunteers (which) we think can help alleviate some of the financial burden (and) will hopefully help the Veiner Centre to help retain their current volunteers and attract new ones.”
Each unlimited wash membership is valued at $400, with the donation totalling approximately $22,000 for Meals on Wheels volunteers.
Fischer is especially appreciative as the Meals on Wheels team has been working to meet increasing demands for service since the beginning of the new year.
“Our numbers have increased so much in the last three months we’ve had to go from seven routes for delivery to eight, because the routes were getting too large for one individual to deliver,” said Fischer. “Just in April, we’ve had 12 new clients.”
On average, the Veiner Centre’s Meals on Wheels team delivers 2,100 meals each month to approximately 200 seniors in the community. Luckily, volunteer membership has increased slightly to meet increased need, however volunteer applications are always open.
“Our meals on wheels volunteers are extremely important to us because, not only are they giving up their time and paying for gas and the use of their vehicle; they’re also, quite often, the only social contact our Meals on Wheels clients have. So we’re reducing social isolation while we’re providing food security … through the use of volunteers.”
Anyone interested in volunteering with Meals on Wheels is encouraged to contact Angela Dunn at 403-529-8307.
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News