Volunteer Stories

We have all had to make adjustments over the past few months, but the Slocan Valley Community Legacy Society has still found ways to stay connected with our community, especially when it comes to recognizing volunteers. Although we couldn’t hold our regular event in April, we went ahead and thanked Valley volunteers with a special ad in the Valley Voice. Then in May we put out a call to Valley non-profit organizations to write a story telling us why their volunteers are so great, with the chance to win a prize pack for the group. We received a good number of responses, and are pleased to announce that in June six different organizations received a package and had their stories published in the Valley Voice.

Thanks to all who submitted an entry – every volunteer deserves to be recognized for the ongoing support they provide, especially in these challenging times! Thanks also to the Valley Voice for helping us share the stories.

Here are the stories (plus a couple of extras) for you to enjoy!


Crescent Valley Fire Dept.

Submitted by Meeri Durand

The Crescent Valley Fire Department is one of many volunteer organizations within the Slocan Valley but what makes it great is the dedication and time that each member demonstrates in their attendance at training and various other learning events across the region and Province. Many members have young children but will take the time to respond to a call when needed and make that extra effort to ensure community members are safe and attended to. There are many lifelong members and some new that come and go but no one is made to feel like they have been left behind. Those who have the experience will take extra time during the week to provide one on one training to new members to make them more confident in their learning. Some members take this time despite working long hours working shifts elsewhere or having more than two jobs to support their families. It is like belonging to a large family that takes care of one another and everyone else around them when needed. This does not make it special – as that same dedication and effort is demonstrated among every single department in the Slocan Valley and in fact the entire Province. Most rural areas of the Province rely on such volunteer fire departments for emergency medical care and fire protection services. So this is a broader thank you to all of those volunteers across each department in this lovely place we get to call home.

 

Lucerne Association for Community Education

Submitted by Carol Bell

What motivates LACE volunteers? It can’t be the wages, or the pension plan, or the status. However, working together to achieve meaningful goals while making it a pleasurable activity for all allows us to give back to the community. Volunteering provides an opportunity to use our valuable skills, to create the kind of community we want to live in and most especially, to have fun!

The people who give selflessly of their time, efforts and energy to volunteer for the Lucerne Association for Community Education are often active members of a broad range of other non-profit organizations as well.

We are grateful for their perseverance; for committing to the larger picture of keeping the Bosun Hall operational by working in the Donation Store. That responsibility involves a huge amount of patience, fortitude and endurance.

Decision making, fundraising and building maintenance requires our volunteer Board of Directors also to keep an eye on current protocols, guidelines and regulations. Everyone brings their own set of skills; there is a sense of fairness, of doing something that benefits individuals as well as the greater community.

Some might say we are like the crew of the Enterprise, going boldly where no one has gone before. Or perhaps we are simply following in the footsteps of those who came before us; building community, one step at a time.

 

Passmore Fire Dept.

Submitted by Bill Hillary

His radio faintly squawks, he shuts off the backhoe just in time to catch Dispatch: “Passmore station 521, you have a grass fire at…”. Looking across the valley, he sees an impressive plume of smoke rising quickly, at the same time as the response “Dispatch, this is 521, acknowledge page”, and the cascade of members “104 responding to hall; 106 responding to hall; 123, 126, 127 responding”.

First grass fire of the season, and first call under the new Covid 19 protocols. But apparatus rolls out as normal with members aboard, the only difference the faces partially obscured by their N95 masks. 102, a retired project manager with Fortis, responds in Car 521 directly to scene and command is established, contact made with the resident and scene quickly assessed: the process has begun.

Apparatus and crews arrive and are directed by command to their tasks. Engine to the location of the initial fire, Rescue (with the CAF, Compressed Air Foam unit) to the field. Tender is staged on the road.

The fire started small, as most do, in the long grass and weeds, small piles of branches and detritus in what was once a farm yard with several outbuildings, beautiful hand-hewn log structures, as well as a dwelling nearby of the same vintage. Capricious spring breezes push it toward dry fuel and feed the flames with oxygen, and the fire races off toward a neighbour’s yard and buildings.

Out in the field, the Rescue crew struggles a bit with the CAF unit; a sticky prime valve causes some problems. But the crew, consisting of a contractor with decades of mechanical experience, a young but experienced wild-land firefighter, and a mechanical engineer turned gardener, soon figure a work around and are quickly actioning the fire, which is now a big ring of flames 100 metres in diameter.

In the farm yard, the engine operator, an engineering technologist by profession, has primed the pump and is sending water to the hose crew consisting of both the oldest member of Passmore Fire, a farmer/landscaper/training officer and jack-of-all-trades, and the youngest member, a junior firefighter/high school student. She has a grip on the nozzle and a fierce look in her eye as she tackles the flames, as the geezer pulls hose around and struggles to keep up! Another member is “bird-dogging”, directing the hose team to out-breaks and stubborn patches of fire.

That member is then retasked with another to bring up the tender to refill both the engine and the CAF, then retrieve another load of water from the fill station.

The field fire and the farm yard are soon struck and mop-up begins. The engine operator has a moment to snap a few pictures, including of the hose team, with his daughter on nozzle. Command smiles at the scene, quoting “Old firefighter teaching young firefighter how to be an old firefighter”.

Suddenly smoke billows from the peak of one of the small outbuildings! Burning embers infiltrated the loft and ignited a pile of old clothes. The hose team rushes over and extinguishes the fire from the ground, then clears the pile onto the ground and douses everything down.

Meanwhile, Regional District Chief has arrived, consulting with Command, happy to see that everything is being conducted safely and efficiently. And Training Coordinator takes Safety Officer position, keeping an eye on points that can be discussed in de-brief, and handing out water to grateful firefighters!

“Dispatch, this is Passmore Station 521. Fire has been struck, mop-up complete, all apparatus returning to hall. Passmore Out.”

Back across the valley, he restarts the back-hoe. Now, let’s finish planting that tree.

 

Royal Canadian Legion Branch #276

Submitted by Carol Barclay

The Royal Canadian Legion is a non-profit organization and our Slocan Valley Branch #276 is run strictly by volunteers. Without our volunteers there would be no Legion in our Valley. We hold several events during the year as well as a music jam every Sunday and these events would not happen except for our volunteers. In 2019 our Legion donated over $24,000 throughout our community and beyond. Needless to say, many volunteers are needed to run our Legion and membership is very much appreciated. We are thankful, too, for some who are not members but volunteer to help at some of our events. Our community benefits greatly from the Legion and without the Legion and our volunteers this support would be sorely missed in the Slocan Valley.

 

Slocan Valley Seniors’ Housing Society

Submitted by Rita Moir

Mabel presides over the kitchen, Sue and Joanne greet the throngs, and Victoria, Helen and Alana deliver armloads of flowers. Dan and Julian, Bob, Paul and Jim haul extra chairs, and the Lions set up tents. The photographers take their places, the royal visitors arrive; the gardeners have gardened, the sign maker has donated the signs, the cooks have cooked, and the party is ready. That’s just one scene of seniors’ housing volunteers pitching in for the 20th anniversary of Passmore Lodge.

Similar stories can be told about the grand opening of Slocan City Suites, where the piper piped, and the people paraded; or for the 10-day Hike for Housing in 1997 or the 3-day Hike or Bike for Housing in 2016.

That’s the wonderful laughter and excitement, but behind the scenes of this incredible housing society are thousands and thousands of hours of Herculean planning, fundraising, and getting the buildings built.

We have a large board, dedicated staff and contractors and involved tenants: as volunteers we work on committees to deal with finances, personnel, fundraising, gardening, building upgrades, board development, new technology, policy and tenant handbooks, BC Housing, publicity and so much more.

Some of our great volunteers – like Eric Clough and Lydia Kania – were there from the beginning. But all good organizations need renewal, and our volunteers replenish with energy and ideas and new perspectives; we are always pleased to welcome and train new board members who become solid and engaged in this worthy cause with people who really like and respect each other, and know how to have fun!

 

Slocan Valley Threads Guild

Submitted by Carol Andrews

Our members often volunteer their time to teach both traditional and modern methods of fibre arts and crafts. Many of these techniques could be lost without this sharing of time and knowledge.Also, our members have a true understanding of community and show this by the generous work they do to support several different charities.

We donate regularly to the “Click for Babies Project”. This is an initiative by health professionals wherein knitters are invited to create purple hats for newborns. The project brings awareness to new parents of infant’s “purple crying”. Infants can be inconsolable, between 3 and 7 months, causing shaken baby syndrome caused by frustrated parents 

Another cause that is dear to us is supporting “Knitted Knockers”, a society whose mission is to connect volunteer knitters and crocheters with breast cancer survivors. These are a free handmade prosthetic for breast cancer survivors who have had mastectomies.

During the Covid 19 pandemic we are all having to learn a new way of living. During this crisis there has become a need for face masks in our part of the Kootenay Region. Many of our members with sewing skills were drafted to make masks for family and friends.  Several members, in support of larger communities, have made between 100-200 masks.  One mother/daughter combo have made just over 800 masks, which have gone to facilities in Nelson, Winlaw, Slocan and surrounding areas. While the Covid 19 pandemic is ongoing members are aware that the need for masks will continue. Our wonderful skilled and caring Guild members will continue providing the community to the best of our ability.

 

Winlaw Fire Rescue

Submitted by Stephanie Whitney

Winlaw Fire Rescue is a group of 20 volunteers who are on call twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year.  During the Covid 19 pandemic, we were forced to cancel our weekly two hour training sessions.  So following RDCK and Provincial protocols, we have begun again to train in tiny groups (2-3).

Our Personal Protective Equipment (also called turn-out gear) weighs approximately 60 pounds.  It is hot and sticky and uncomfortable to wear.  Now with the extra PPE that we have to wear (latex gloves, N95 masks, face shields or goggles and gowns), we are working harder than ever to keep our communities safe.

90% of our members have completed all of their online training in swiftwater awareness, gas and electrical safety, WHMIS.  This was another way to keep our members focused on firefighting during the pandemic.

It’s been a challenge to keep our group connected, but with our weekly phone conferences and email chains, we are keeping on top of our game.

These members are truly inspired to keep our community safe, and I couldn’t be more proud of the “above and beyond” spirit that they aspire to.