Over 250 selfless individuals gathered in Sidney today to be recognized.
Beacon Community Services (BCS) hosted its annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on April 28 at the SHOAL Centre. There are over 500 volunteers that provide services to the residents of the Saanich Peninsula and Greater Victoria; over half of those volunteers showed up at the banquet to be honoured and treated to a buffet lunch and dessert.
Beacon Community Services has been around for just over 40 years; some volunteers that were honoured have given their time for almost as long.
Marilyn Ball, 86, has been volunteering for 28 years.
“It gives me sort of a purpose in life,” she said. “I get to meet wonderful, happy, intelligent, amazing people. And I feed from the vitality of that.”
Ball first started volunteering when a curling friend of hers suggested she give it a try. Twenty-eight years later and Ball still works Wednesday morning and Saturday morning every week at the BCS flagship thrift shop on Third Street in Sidney.
Ball was presented with a bright bouquet of spring flowers by MP Elizabeth May, along with a certificate and a custom, Canada 150 volunteer pin from Volunteer Canada.
Other dignitaries in attendance were: Gary Holman, MLA Saanich North and the Islands; Mayor Steve Price, Town of Sidney, Mayor Alice Finall, District of North Saanich and Superintendent Keven Elder, School District 63.
Many other volunteers at the five-year, 10-year, 15-year and 20-year benchmarks were awarded the same tokens of appreciation; but because Ball has been volunteering the longest she received the biggest bouquet of flowers and a very long round of applause.
“I think it was a huge success,” said Sara Lawton, BCS volunteer services coordinator. ” We had to add an extra table in here, that shows just how much people are involved … and the benchmark volunteers, I’m always in awe of them. I just have so much respect for what they do.”
The volunteers from BCS have logged over 70,000 hours of time. Volunteers dedicate their time to all sorts of endeavours. One of the main ways is at the thrift store, but it doesn’t stop there. Volunteers help with anything from income tax returns, to applying for disability parking permits, to playing music for people with memory disorders.
Every year BCS puts on the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. This year there was turkey and ham accompanied by mashed potatoes and summer salads. During the awards there was coffee, tea and strawberry-vanilla cake for dessert. With over 250 people there, you can imagine the mess of dirty plates on the tables and cutlery strewn about; luckily the volunteers are used to pitching in and some even helped clear their own place.
When the excitement of the awards simmered, volunteers were able to relax and enjoy the sounds of The Accordion Quartet. During this time, in true Good Samaritan fashion, Ball doled out bunches of flowers from her bouquet.
“I just wanted to share them with my friends,” she said. Adding that she will continue to volunteer for as long as her health allows.