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KCR: Volunteers help seinors remain in their own home

These columns are contributed by the KCR Community Resources
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Sonia Newman has dedicated over 25 years to Westside Health Network Society (WHNS), starting with working at a part-time position while her sons were growing up and for many years since as the executive director.

Having originally been raised in Boyle, Alberta, Sonia has called the Central Okanagan home for 30 years.

She is proud of her two sons and happy to be “Baba” to two granddaughters. She is entirely committed to her organization’s mission of enhancing seniors’ wellness through volunteerism, education, referral and social programs in the West Kelowna and Peachland area and is looking for new volunteers that will make a huge impact.

“I found my passion,” enthused Sonya, who decided to take the gerontology certificate program at UBC to support her work.

“The organization became a society in 1991 and we have been growing for the past 33 years assisting seniors in the community.”

Sonia along with Karen Northcott, the coordinator of volunteers, are the only employess, with all of the other services provided by incredible volunteers.

“We have volunteer drivers, visitors, tax clinics and a group that knits and crochets articles that are donated to the community,” explained Sonia.

“These volunteers make a huge impact for seniors as they navigate the system with the wish to remain in their own home in the community that they love.”

Potential volunteer roles include board directors, drivers who help seniors get around town and to their appointments, volunteer visitors who join seniors for a visit, walk or activity and digital device tutors, who help participants stay connected through technology.

“We require criminal record checks for most positions as people work directly with vulnerable elderly population,” stated Sonia.

“Our volunteers are caring, compassionate people who feel that they have made a difference in a senior’s life.

“For example, volunteers deliver Christmas packages to seniors living alone and there are always tears of joy as the seniors truly appreciate ‘that someone cares.’”

Sonia highlights WHNS also offers navigation services, helping with referral and connection to community resources for seniors, an exercise program and a social program.

If you are interested in joining the WHNS team as a volunteer, connect with Karen at 250-768-3305 or email whns@telus.net. You can also find out more about the organization at www.westsideheathnetwork.org.

Sonia herself volunteers as “it is rewarding to know I made someone’s day and it gives me something to do in my retirement.”

For more opportunities to share your time and passion, check out the VolunteerConnector.org.

Cool new positions are always popping up, including as park ambassador or environmental steward at the Regional District of the Central Okanagan or join KCR Community Resources’ new Community Crew helping at community events and activities, sharing your bright smiles, community knowledge and helpful spirits with event goers.

Dorothee Birker is the communications & development manager for KCR Community. Resources.