Lifetime of volunteering in the community

Joan Ethier has earned this year’s Lifetime Service Award by putting in a combined 88-plus years of volunteer service to the community.

Joan Ethier

“Her long term dedication to her volunteer jobs has made a difference in thousands of people’s lives, both in her community and those visiting her home town.”

Those words are part of a biography submitted to the Hearts of the Community Award judges and neatly sum up a lifetime of service to the Peninsula by one of its longtime residents.

Joan Ethier has earned this year’s Lifetime Service Award by putting in a combined 88-plus years of volunteer service to the community. That’s 30 years at the Tourist Information Centre, 30 years at Beacon Community Services and 28 years as a volunteer with local blood donor clinics. That’s not to mention her time as a volunteer in her younger days with thrift shops, softball, square dancing, curling and even as a sewing teacher at the SHOAL Centre.

And, at age 93, she’s still volunteering in her community.

These days, she’s having more difficulty with her mobility, but she forges ahead each day and finds time during the week to volunteer. During an interview with the News Review, she even took a phone call to confirm where she was going to be later that week.

“People need help,” Ethier said of why she thinks it’s important to be a volunteer. “And for me, volunteering helps me get out among people. It keeps my mind active, to a degree.”

She said she started volunteering 60 years ago or so and the first thing she did was coach a girls softball team in Sidney. Her daughter was on the team and she used to play as well.

Ethier grew up on a farm, near where the Victoria airport sits today and close to where the B.C. Aviation Museum is located. Her family would move away to Vancouver to open a confectionery store and run it for around 10 years.

They would return to Sidney, and that’s where Ethier met her husband, Bernard, who was with the Royal Canadian Air Force. They moved around a bit because of her husband’s job and he ended his career in Comox. They eventually made their way back to Sidney, where they ran the Sidney Bakery and Sidney Drygoods for a time.

Ethier’s husband was a member of the local Rotary Club at the time and through them Ethier became a volunteer with their blood donor clinic. It used to be run out of a local hotel, before the Red Cross, then Canadian Blood Services took over. Ethier continues to volunteer with blood donor clinics to this day, there to offer clients their refreshments and stickers afterwards. Interestingly, in all of her years as a volunteer at the clinics, Ethier said she has never given blood herself. These days, she’s too old to do so.

Ethier also found the time to volunteer at local thrift shops, starting with Peninsula Old and New some 30 years ago. Today, she volunteers behind the cash register at Beacon Community Services’ thrift shop. She is proud of the fact she can still count out people’s change by hand, despite all of the new technology that makes running the till easier.

A long-time knitter, Ethier added volunteering at the Mount Newton Daycare to her resumé — where she offers to knit gloves, slippers, Christmas decorations and more. She has been doing this for close to 10 years.

“I can knit whatever I darn well feel like and they like it too,” she said.

Volunteering, Ethier said, saves people a lot of money. Places like thrift shops and activities like softball cannot survive without them, she said.

“Volunteers do a lot of good work. They serve many groups and organizations in great need.”

Living in a Sidney seniors community these days, Ethier said it’s a wonderful place with plenty of activities and social opportunities. She gets out to play Bridge on Mondays (she can still drive), volunteers at the Beacon Community Services thrift shop on Third Street at least once per week and continues to work at local blood donor clinics.

“I do keep the mornings to myself these days,” she added.

Ethier has dedicated a significant portion of her life to contributing to the well-being of her community — a fact not lost on those who nominated her for the Lifetime Service Award:

“(Joan) has seen Sidney grow and develop into the vibrant community it is today and through her volunteer activities has contributed … throughout her lifetime.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Families, spectators wave goodbye to Navy Task Force from Victoria shorelines

HCMS Winnipeg and HCMS Regina sailing to Hawaiian training exercise, further deployments

COVID-inspired RV sales soaring on West Shore and beyond

Health restrictions, recommendations keep Vancouver Island vacationers closer to home

‘Just being stupid’: Premier slams abusive customers at Langford restaurant

Restaurant said rude customers reduced its hosts to tears

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

Cowichan RCMP use spike belts to end car chase — man in custody

The driver was arrested at the scene a short distance from his vehicle

COVID-19 tests come back negative for remote First Nation

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

Most Read