Vol 'n' tell

The Official Blog of Volunteer Richmond Information Services
  • Learning through Play: The CCRR Libraries

    Richmond's best-kept childcare secret is out! In our latest article, volunteer blogger Susan Young reviews the two difference resource libraries at the Richmond Child Care Resource & Referral Centre (CCRR).

    Programming and Outreach Consultant Chris Lee with the CCRR Mobile Library
    Having to entertain children after a long day at work or a full day of homemaking can be stressful. It’s tempting to take out a tablet and have them be entertained at the endless available movies and apps. The accessibility of all these gadgets brings the term “digital nanny” to mind - it’s so easy to whip out an iPad or smartphone to distract your kids while you savour some quiet time to yourself. But is that what we really want? We have to wonder if it will adversely affect our little one’s development. Can parents teach young children to entertain themselves without using technology?

    According to the Canadian Council on Learning“Play nourishes every aspect of children’s development - it forms the foundation of intellectual, social, physical, and emotional skills necessary for success in school and in life.” If play is so important to one’s development, can parents help teach kids how to play? By providing books and toys, parents can help to spark curiosity, imagination, and independence at a young age. A common term used in education, “Learning Through Play,” describes how children can learn to make sense of the world through play and to develop social and cognitive skills, emotional maturity, and self-confidence.

    Even if young children don’t yet know how to fully read or play, just the act of turning pages in a book, or identifying and touching familiar objects, can spark an interest for learning. It's also a good opportunity to bond and connect with your child. With my own child, I've found that setting a regular routine of reading and activities has helped to increase attention span, vocabulary, imagination, motor skills, and awareness of surroundings. By associating what they’ve read with their daily lives, children can easily grow their vocabulary, self-confidence, and comprehension.

    A contender for the cutest sushi playset ever, from our CCRR Mobile Library. 

    Without needing to spend a whole lot on new books or toys, parents can easily visit the Child Care Resource & Referral Mobile Library and the Child Care Resource & Referral Lending Library to pick up various learning and play items. By joining a yearly membership ($5 for the Mobile Library and $20 for the Lending Library) parents gain borrowing privileges to a plethora of educational material for children ages 0-5 and 3-12 years old.

    Playtime expert Jacob with his mom Karen Leung with their newly borrowed toys from the CCRR Mobile LIbrary

    The CCRR Mobile Library runs from April to March and is only available to parents. Parents can choose from a large selection of puzzles, books,and games catering to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in Chinese, English, and Punjabi. The CCRR Mobile Library travels to four drop-in locations in Richmond, allowing parents to easily pickup and return toys. Children who normally attend the drop-in activities can borrow an item to take home for a week. All kits are educational and age appropriate for active minds. 

    In addition, parents can obtain community information or learn about programs or events offered by the Health Department and the Richmond Public Library through the Community Connections Project at the drop-ins. As noted by Karen Leung, a parent who frequently borrows from the Mobile Lending Library: “Chris, the programming and Outreach Consultant, also provided information about parenting and local events. Even if I can’t attend all the local events, I like being aware of what’s going on. Knowing this information helps me feel connected to my community”.

    The CCRR Lending Library, on the other hand, is an extensive library open to families, Early Childhood Education students, community members, and child care providers. The library consists of material for children ages 3-12, including children’s books, activity boxes, toy bags, CD’s, and many curriculum materials for supporting programs at a child care center. Members may borrow material for up to 1 month, with some restrictions on seasonal and renewal items. Office hours are Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm, with a few exceptions. On Tuesday, they are open until 8pm, and the second Saturday of every month from 10am - 1pm.


    Boxes and boxes and shelves and shelves of books and toys at the CCRR Lending Library

    With this assortment of learning and educational materials, parents can feel assured that there are excellent resources available for families with children. After committing some time to showing your child how to play and ensuring material is within reach, parents may be surprised at what their child may take interest to or do on their own. For very young children, going back to the basics of learning through play allows the development of healthy habits. As children mature, technology can be introduced in moderation for enjoyment and to complement learning.

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  • Richmond’s Giving Spirit

    It's Christmas Fund season again, and of course, that means we're looking for volunteers to help us make the holiday season as joyful as possible for Richmond's low-income families. Not yet sure about joining the team? We thought you might need a bit of convincing, which is why we recruited guest blogger (and former Volunteer Richmond summer student) Tina Deng to give us an overview of what the Christmas Fund is, why it's so important, and what others are doing to help.

    "Children are poor in this city. Do something about it," reads the United Way of the Lower Mainland’s poverty prevention campaign.

    Yet for many of us, when we think of hungry and poverty stricken children, our thoughts automatically turn to images of children living in far away villages instead of the children in our own community. For many of us, it can be difficult to imagine that there are children living among us who may be hungry or who lack proper housing and clothing when we may be much more accustomed to hearing about poverty in developing nations.

    Nonetheless, according to the authors of the 2013 BC Child Poverty Report Card, B.C. has the highest child poverty rate in Canada. Compared to the national rate of 13.3 per cent, B.C.’s child poverty rate is a staggering 18.6 per cent. Even more astonishing a fact is that the child poverty rate actually increased from 14.3 per cent in 2010 to its current numbers. Hence, as noted by the report, almost one in five B.C. children lives in poverty. Not surprising then, the report calls for the provincial government to adopt a more comprehensive poverty reduction plan. But at the same time, the Richmond community can do its part to help families in need.

    Volunteer Richmond has been running the Richmond Christmas Fund for over twenty years now. During the holiday season, the Christmas Fund gives new toys to children and grocery gift certificates to low-income Richmond residents so that every family has the opportunity to have a joyous holiday.

    Last year alone, the Christmas Fund distributed grocery vouchers to over 1,800 low-income Richmond residents and provided over 600 children under 15 with toys, books, and gift cards. And as with any initiative of this magnitude, the Christmas Fund would not be possible without the generosity of donors and volunteers.

    Volunteers Justinne Ramirez (right) and Chris Lim (left) at a fundraiser for the Richmond Christmas Fund

    Justinne Ramirez is one such volunteer. She has volunteered with the Christmas Fund for three years now and plans to continue this year. What started for her as a desire to create a volunteering tradition with her boyfriend has turned into a solo effort – but that hasn’t stopped her.

    “Christmas is a time of giving,” says Justinne, “so how heartbreaking is it to know that [there are] children [who] have nothing on Christmas?”

    And as a toy room assistant, Justinne not only helps parents choose toys for their children, but she also gets to see firsthand the joy felt by the grateful parents and smiling children.

    “Parents sometimes get emotional and it’s great that we get to make them feel like they can provide for their children in grander ways. It really gives them hope that things will get better.”

    Similarly, while seeing the happy faces of the families she’s helping, Justinne cannot help but feel immense pride for her city as well. Indeed, her favorite aspect of volunteering with the Christmas Fund is “seeing how generous Richmond can be”.

    Volunteering with the Christmas Fund has even helped Justinne paint a different picture of poverty. “There’s no face to poverty,” says Justinne, “you never know who’s affected by poverty in your daily life.”

    Finally, Justinne encourages everyone to be open-minded, to not make any judgements, and to be kind because “anyone can go through a difficult situation.”

    During this holiday season, you are invited to join Justinne and donate your time to this great cause. We have many Christmas Fund volunteer opportunities. Please call us at 604-279-7035 or visit the Christmas Fund “How Can I Help?” page to find out how you can become involved.

    The spirit of Christmas starts here!

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  • The Wide World of Volunteerism: August 2014

    Part of why the Wide World of Volunteerism series exists is to celebrate all the different forms of giving that happen every day around the world. Whether that means becoming a humanitarian worker, or participating in the #IceBucketChallenge, or tweeting in support of a cause that is dear to your heart, every form of giving adds up to a more caring world. Here to give us a glimpse of that world is blogger Ray Wang with this month's volunteer stories.

    World Humanitarian Day: Aid Workers Attacks And Killings Reaching Record Numbers

    According to a report by NGO Humanitarian Outcomes, there were 251 separate attacks on aid workers - with 155 killed, 171 seriously wounded, and 134 kidnapped - last year. This was a 66% increase compared to 2012. To show gratitude and to highlight the difference these workers have made in the world, the UN has launched Humanitarian Heroes: a website which focuses on the work aid workers perform and places where their work is most needed.

    4 Ways Social Media is Utilized for Social Good

    Image source: FuckCancer

    Social media is now a regular and important part of social movements and charitable campaigns. Examples of social media users include Vancouver’s very own Fuck Cancer and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation powerhouse. Social media for social good can also happen spontaneously and organically, as we saw with the Arab Revolution and around victim support during natural disaster aftermaths. With all the discussions and information being shared on digital platforms, it's evident that social media can no longer be a secondary consideration when attempting projects for social benefit.

    The 60 Best Celebrity Ice Bucket Challenge Videos

    From business tycoons Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates to celebrities Justin Timberlake and Robert Downey Jr., thousands of people worldwide are participating in the #IceBucketChallenge to raise awareness and fundraise for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Here are 60 of the best celebrity Ice Bucket Challenge videos!

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  • Non-Profit Video Picks: August 2014

    September is a busy time of year for everyone, and it's no less so for nonprofits who are rolling out their fall campaigns. In this month's edition of blogger Ray Wang's Non-Profit Video Picks, we look at some upcoming September projects from the nonprofit world, as well as the ways in which organizations use social media to promote such campaigns to their supporters. 

    September Campaign 2014 - The Sahel Region

    Having clean water and health is the first step to escaping poverty. Clean water can change lives. This September, charity:water will launch a campaign to bring clean water to 100,000 people in the Saleh reigon of Mali and Niger – said to be one of the harshest regions on the planet. According to charity:water, 46% of Mali's and 58% of Niger’s rural populations lack access to clean water. To help, visit September Campaign 2014.

    The Social Nonprofit: David Suzuki Foundation Success Story

    Social media has not only helped brands connect with more consumers, but also helped nonprofits do more social good. The David Suzuki Foundation for instance, has used social networks and platforms to gain media exposure, launch successful marketing campaigns, and spread their vision of a healthy, sustainable planet worldwide. To learn more on how social media can benefit your nonprofit, read 8 Tips on the Effective Use of Social Media for Social Good.

    Giving back for back to school with Google Shopping Express

    With school just around the corner, Google has partnered up with Volunteers of America’s Operation Backpack program in order to provide new backpacks and school supplies to homeless and at-risk children throughout Northern California. These back to school gifts will provide a sense of normalcy and help children start off the school year feeling prepared and confident.

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  • Shaping The Future

    Here's Volunteer Richmond Communications Coordinator Ryan Luetzen on 10 years of Youth Now. 

    On my desk, next to an empty bottle of cucumber melon hand sanitizer and a silver stress ball, there’s a photo. It’s of me, taken several years ago, in Tofino. I’m in a small forest clearing, my back to the camera, looking out over a calm ocean inlet towards a wooded island. I don’t remember what I was thinking at the time, but if ever a location lent itself to deep contemplation, this was it. I’m going to go out on a limb and say I was pondering one of three things: the past, the present, or the future.

    Actually, you know what? I’ll narrow it down even further. I wasn’t thinking about the present, because really, who does? The present, for better or worse, kind of just happens. It goes by too quickly for careful analysis. Blink and it’s a memory, and then you’re just thinking about the past.

    So, as I stood there staring across the water, my thoughts must have been travelling either backwards or forwards. I was in my early twenties, so I’d lived life, at least a little. I had experiences I could look back on, fondly or otherwise. I may well have been thinking about the past.

    But it’s more likely that I was thinking about the future, as young people often do. When there’s so little behind you, it’s only natural to wonder what’s ahead, to envision who you’ll become, and what you’ll accomplish. That’s the benefit of being young: it’s all before you. And that means you can do more than merely think about your future. You can also shape it.

    This year marks the 10th anniversary of Volunteer Richmond’s Leadership Richmond – Youth Now program. As a staff member, I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but of all the programs we offer, it’s my favourite. And that’s saying a lot, because I think all of our programs are pretty awesome.

    Why do I hold Youth Now in such high regard? I’ll get to that in a second. In the meantime, how about I answer a simpler question: What is Youth Now? Well, basically, it’s a program that gives high school graduates under the age of 26 an opportunity to serve on a non-profit board of directors. During their time in the program, youth also participate in a number of leadership conferences, on topics ranging from board governance to fund development to strategic planning.

    The photo that inspired this article. Oh, and you'll notice that, in addition to hand sanitizer and a stress ball, my desk is home to a stuffed bear dressed in lederhosen. Just thought I'd point that out.

    For young people who, someday, want to play a leadership role in their community, Youth Now provides an invaluable experience. The program gives them a glimpse into a future that, to this point, they’ve only imagined. For the year they’re in the program, time shifts – someday becomes today.

    Participants, guided by a Board mentor, learn what it means to be a leader, in part by observing their fellow Board members, but mostly by working alongside them. The youth aren’t spectators, in other words; they’re actively involved in making decisions and setting policy. They’re even put in charge of a project, which can be anything from organizing a fundraising event to setting up social media accounts for their organization. It all depends on what they’re interested in.

    Participants leave the program with a new set of skills, or perhaps skills that they already had, but are now further developed. They’ve gotten to see – and experience – what leadership entails – the rewards, the challenges, the responsibilities. Simply put, they’re better prepared for the future.

    To me, that’s why the Youth Now program matters. When you’re young, and you think about your future, the possibilities are endless. It’s exciting, but also overwhelming, and even a little terrifying. It’s less terrifying, though, when you’re confident you have the tools to shape your future. Youth Now has been giving young people those tools for a decade.

    So, if you find yourself staring into the distance, wondering what the future holds, remember that you can do more than wonder. You can plan, you can prepare, you can start building today. And maybe the Youth Now program can help you do it.

    Applications for the 2014-15 Youth Now program are due August 29, though we’ll continue accepting applications after that until all spots are filled.

    Funding for the Leadership Richmond – Youth Now program is provided by Coast Capital Savings.

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  • Richmond is Pretty Cool #4: Local Musician Anna Toth

    Just because it's been awhile since our last installment of the Richmond is Pretty Cool series doesn't mean our city is any less so! Here to prove that is volunteer blogger Lillian Liao with a feature on local talent Anna Toth.

    “Why I write, why I sing, and why I perform” are the three questions that always linger on local musician Anna Toth’s mind as she navigates her way through maintaining a YouTube channel, performing at local shows, and establishing her position as an original, expressive and honest artist.

    Anna Toth’s professional music journey began on December 25, 2010 when she created her YouTube channel. The original goal was to use YouTube as a performance outlet for her already developed talent in songwriting and performance. Making use of an old video camera and a younger brother who could act as a cameraman, Anna filmed her first video and uploaded it onto her channel. This humble background was the beginning of what would become a solid platform for Anna to grow her audience.

    “I didn’t know how to act, where to look, or if I should say ‘hi’ to the strangers that would possibly stumble across my video,” Anna recalls of filming her first video. “I was pretty much the epitome of awkwardness.”

    Regardless of the nerves Anna felt when filming her first video, the habit of uploading performances is something Anna now humorously refers to as an ‘addiction’. At the end of that Christmas holiday, Anna managed to record three more videos. Just like any other budding musician, one of Anna’s motivating factors is the support she receives from her fans.

    “I hate to say it, but a huge motivating factor is the response videos get,” Anna explains.“When you see a video do well, it makes you want to upload another. It makes you want to reach out to more people and see where things can go.”

    For four years now, Anna’s YouTube channel has been constantly attracting more and more listeners from all across the world. Her growing fan base has led to the establishment of other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Social media has allowed Anna to shorten the distance between artist and audience.

    “Social media has been a great tool to grow an audience. People feel more connected to you when they see inside glimpses of the songwriting process or of the planning behind a music video,” Anna explains. “When you can share thoughts and updates, it helps keep the idea of your work relevant to people even if you don’t have new musical content 24/7.”

    Even though her melodic journey has been largely documented on the web, Anna’s love for songwriting and performing extends far beyond her YouTube endeavors. Behind the screen, there is a young artist whose ambitions are rooted by a childhood surrounded with music and familial support. As a child, Anna grew up singing at open-mic performances with her father at the Britannia Shipyards in Steveston. It was also her father who taught her several chords on the guitar, inspiring Anna to explore her songwriting skills. With a guitar in hand, knowledge of a few chords and an optimistic attitude, Anna wrote her first song in grade four about “an annoying younger sister”.

    “Looking back now, I always laugh and blush at this first sloppy and immature attempt to form something with a melody. At the same time I realize that it was beneficial,” Anna recalls. “When you’re a little kid and you write songs, you have more of a support group because adults think it’s kind of cute, and you aren’t as self-conscious about coming across as stupid.”

    Even though the writing topics are now on an entirely different level, Anna’s approach to songwriting remains the same as she continues to draw inspiration from her personal life. Anna estimates that she’s been able to write more than fifty songs chronicling her real-life experiences. Reflectively, she admits that the ‘bad’ experiences are the ones that are golden in songwriting.

    “It’s a slightly melancholy observation, but I’ve noticed that the songs I’m most proud of are the ones that came from the result of a hurt of some sort,” Anna explains. “Frustration, loneliness, and heartbreak have probably been the most helpful emotions for me.”

    In this manner, Anna relates her songwriting process to a form of therapy. Using her personal experiences to help her grow as a musician, Anna puts her stories out for the public to hear in the most vulnerable and authentic way. It is this honesty that is at the core of her solid foundation with fans.

    “Listeners can identify sincerity when they hear it. I’ve received the most amazing messages from people,” Anna explains. “It’s the coolest thing to hear that people empathize and that people are grateful for the words that you write.”

    This emotional connection with her fans is magnified during live performances. Although Anna has been performing for a long time, she still gets nervous as the bar of expectations are raised higher during live shows.

    “You can feel the weight of everyone’s attention and the spotlight makes you very vulnerable,” Anna says. “On Youtube people choose to watch the videos they want and can exit a window as soon as they feel bored, but when you’re performing you realize that your audience has come here to see you and it means that you have to be that much more engaging and entertaining.”

    Despite the pressure that exists when playing venues, the possibility of forming a stronger connection with her fans makes the wager worthwhile.

    “I’d say the stakes are higher, but the rewards can also be better too,” Anna explains, “When you notice someone crying, smiling, or trying to make eye contact, you realize you’ve connected with them and it’s pretty cool.”

    This year, Anna will be taking time off from university to focus entirely on music. Improving as a performer, along with traveling and recording songs, are some of the goals Anna hopes to accomplish during this time. As a musician, Anna Toth is all about striking the perfect balance between artistic expression and forming a long-lasting bond with her audience.

    For Anna, the idea of success has a clearly defined meaning: “Success to me means building a reputation of consistent originality, quality, and depth with my fan base.”

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  • Collaboration Chronicles: Learning To Evolve

    Have you heard? Volunteer Richmond is collaborating with the Richmond Community Foundation on a project called Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives. Indeed, we’ve been working together for well over a year now. But lately, things are really starting to pick up. Which is why we’ve decided to start a new blog series – Collaboration Chronicles – to keep you up-to-date on the latest happenings. From progress reports to major announcements, you’ll find it all here. Thanks for reading, and for joining us on what we promise will be a unique and exciting journey.

    There’s a quote often attributed to Charles Darwin, one that, rumour has it, he never actually said. In any case, whether the author is Darwin, or Anonymous, the quote is as follows: “It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

    Now, you’re probably thinking that, at this point, we’re going to start writing about how Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives, the collaborative initiative between Volunteer Richmond and the Richmond Community Foundation, is the next evolutionary step for our organizations, a step we’re taking together. While we believe this to be true – certainly, we’re adapting to changing circumstances – we don’t necessarily think that “evolution” is the best lens through which to view our collaboration.

    Back in February, Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives received a $150,000 grant - and, just as importantly, a vote of confidence - from the Province of British Columbia.

    Like all organizations, we want to become more efficient, and more effective. To do that, yes, we’ll need to evolve, and journey from where we are to where we want to be. But as the quote above implies, for that journey to be successful, something must happen along the way: we must learn to collaborate.

    Above all, that’s what this is – a learning process.

    We’re learning, for one, that collaboration, at least in the beginning, isn’t easy. We’re talking now about the nitty gritty of working together – issues related to office space, administrative processes, and staff time (or lack thereof). These things don’t just sort themselves out. Just the opposite, in fact. Right now, our collaboration resembles a giant machine full of kinks. It’s going to take time to fine tune everything, but we’re willing to invest that time, because, in the long run, we think it’ll be worth it.

    We’re also learning that explaining our collaboration to the community – the reasons behind it, what it will ultimately become – isn’t simply a matter of explaining. It also involves reassuring, clarifying, and, in some instances, even defending. Because when organizations collaborate, the ramifications aren’t only internal; they’re external as well. What we’re doing will impact the community – that’s the point. But we understand that not everyone is so sure that the impact will be positive. For them, it’s our responsibility to offer peace of mind.

    More than anything, we’re learning to be flexible. We have a vision for Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives – an endgame we’re working towards. But it’s a ways off yet, and the road to get there will be a long one. It’s here, we think, where the difference between evolving and learning is most pronounced.

    When we think of evolution, we think of an inexorable march towards progress. The road from where you are to where you want to be is a straight one. Learning, however, is different. The road isn’t straight, and there’ll be detours along the way.

    When you’re travelling a straight road – when you’re evolving – navigation isn’t an issue. You just keep going forward. But when you’re learning, and the path towards progress is less clear, you may need a little help to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

    With Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives, we’re lucky to have that help. In the Boards of Volunteer Richmond and the Community Foundation, we have a tremendous leadership group. And the feedback we’ve received from community members has been invaluable. We may not be travelling down a straight path, but, thanks to the guidance we’ve gotten along the way, we know we’re headed down the right one.

    And we’re doing it together. Not just Volunteer Richmond and the Community Foundation, but everyone who has a stake in this community. Organizations, businesses, individuals – you’re part of this along with us, collaborating to make Richmond a healthier, more vibrant place to live. To us, that’s the only outcome that matters.

    So, as they say, onwards and upwards – and in whatever direction this collaboration takes us. We’re glad to have you along for the ride.

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  • Market Fresh: The Steveston Farmers and Artisans Market

    As any Richmondite will know, nothing says summer like the open Steveston air on a sunny day. The only way it gets better is if the Steveston Farmers and Artisans Market is on at the same time! For her last blog post as our summer student, Tina Deng went to Steveston to get us the scoop on Richmond's favourite summer market.


    The people of Steveston have welcomed the lively and vibrant Steveston Farmers and Artisans Market for six years running, and like a bottle of red wine, it only gets better with age! Open from 10am to 4pm the first and third Sundays each month through September, the Steveston Market is the place to be during these last few days of summer.

    Market vendors sell everything from locally made jewelry to fruit and veggies and natural cosmetics. You can shop while listening to some great local musicians. There’s really a little of everything and the small market feel only makes it sweeter.

    “The really good thing about the Farmer’s Market is the people,“ says market manager, Henry Pietraszek. "You get to sit down and meet vendors and people who come from all over. The energy that the market gives me is amazing. I’m buzzing for days after the market because it’s a really nice place to hang ... It can’t be a more positive experience.”

    Henry is always happy to welcome more local vendors. “If they are from BC, they are fair game for being in the market … [Although] I’m definitely trying to encourage more Richmond-based vendors.”


    Samples of Steveston market fare

    Like the market itself, Henry’s most memorable moments are small and sweet. “I try to meet someone new every market. I sit down on the bench with a total stranger, soak up the wonderful music that’s playing 10 feet away and just strike up a conversation. And it has been immensely rewarding every time I do that.”

    But if that’s not enough to entice you to visit, Henry adds that, “the profit goes to pay for programs at the Steveston Community Society. This is a true non-profit endeavor.”

    The products and vendors changes from week to week, but the summer memories are here to stay. Fresh food. Great friends. Good company. What more can you ask for on a lazy Sunday? The Steveston Market awaits you this September 7th!

    To learn more about the Steveston Market, please visit: www.sfam.ca

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  • A Summer with Richmond's Senior Community Support Services

    Where did the summer go? We are already saying goodbye to our summer student Andrew Lai, who spent three months as an assistant in our Senior Community Support Services department. Here's Andrew in his own words on what he's taken away.

    Andrew Lai (second from left) with the rest of the Senior Community Support Services staff

    Rarely do we take the time to step back and think about all that the Senior Community Support Services (SCSS) at Volunteer Richmond achieves in one day - but it is always quite the achievement. As both the Volunteer Shopping Program and the Better at Home Program operate each day of the week, seniors are able to receive the necessary aid and services they need as soon as possible. 

    Sometimes, senior clients may feel that they have lost not only the ability to take care of themselves, but also the freedom to do so. Our senior clients may struggle with accomplishing everyday tasks or they may simply need some assistance with them. 

    Thankfully, our friendly and dedicated volunteers are there to fill the gap. Volunteering can be an extremely rewarding experience. SCSS volunteers can help clients with shopping, friendly visiting, and/or transportation. Each volunteer's dedication towards serving their senior clients is clear to see. Even when difficulties - such as conflicts, mistakes, or complaints - arise, we've seen our volunteers embrace all kinds of different situations in order to serve Richmond seniors to the best of their ability. 

    Our team of dedicated volunteers work hand-in-hand with our staff in order to give Richmond seniors the best possible service. The value of the SCSS programs lie in being able to benefit both the volunteer, who gives their time to assist those in need, and the senior, who receives help with essential everyday needs. Not only do the volunteers enjoy and benefit from helping others, but the clients also benefit from receiving the services. Together, the volunteers and seniors are what make up two sides of the same coin we call community.

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  • A Year of Better at Home

    You can never thank volunteers enough, goes the old volunteer management adage, but we're sure nobody would mind if volunteers were celebrated more often. Especially if you celebrate with a full-on party with cake and cream puffs. Alright, we could probably do without so many sweets, but we did recently have a sweet celebration in honour of Richmond Better at Home's first anniversary. Our outgoing summer student Tina Deng is here with a recap on the festivities.

    The cakes don't stand a chance against Volunteer Driver Martin Chester!

    “The Better at Home services support healthy aging by giving seniors choices: a choice to remain independent without becoming isolated; a choice to stay connected to the community and feel a sense of belonging; a choice to socialize with friends and go on outings and to live happily, with dignity. Those choices exist – our Better at Home services exist – because of volunteers.”

    Better at Home (BAH) website

    Everyone reading this blog is hopefully well aware of the great work Volunteer Richmond does to promote volunteerism in and around Richmond. But as important as it is to promote our services, it’s equally important to celebrate the volunteer contributions that make these services possible.

    And celebrate we did! In between good conversation, cake, and laughter, the Better at Home (BAH) Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on August 8, 2014 celebrated all that been accomplished in Richmond BAH’s first year.

    BAH Program Coordinator Peggy Tang spoke about the importance of the celebration: “Most of these volunteers work separately, so it’s great to have them all meet one another. It really creates a sense of the community that is working to make Richmond a better place for seniors.”

    This July also saw the setting of a new monthly record in which our volunteer drivers made 174 trips and our friendly visitors made 100 visits. Over the past year, volunteers drove 1,975 hours and spent almost 1,000 hours visiting seniors! In addition to providing seniors with much needed transportation and friendly visiting services, volunteers also provide office assistance such as data entry and photocopying – they really do it all!

    And to think, none of this would have been possible without the dedication of volunteers. The program’s success is also reflected in client feedback. In a recent survey, 38 out of 50 clients noted that the program made a ‘great improvement to their quality of life’. Every hour of volunteer contribution all adds up to help better the lives of BAH clients.

    Margret Perry, Volunteer Friendly Visitor

    Margret, a volunteer friendly visitor, used the apt description of a “two-way street” to describe the relationship between volunteers and clients. “Due to their often limited mobility, seniors may find socializing difficult, but it’s important [for everyone] to remain connected to the community.” A friendly visitor can help a senior overcome these difficulties by providing companionship in person or over the phone.

    Margret notes that the companionship is mutual. After losing her husband to ALS in 2000, she felt increasingly isolated. Through friendly visiting however, she is able to help herself as well as other seniors in need. “I get a lot out of what I put in,” says Margret.

    “It’s also important to have an organized support system [behind the volunteers],” adds Margret. Staff members including Peggy and Carol Dickson, the Manager of Seniors Services, take extra effort to match friendly visiting volunteers with seniors who have compatible personalities and hobbies. This way, it becomes easier for the pair to find activities to enjoy together. The senior and volunteer pair can spend their time chatting, playing cards, or strolling through the neighbourhood.

    James and Lynn, Better at Home volunteers

    James (a volunteer driver) and Lynn (a volunteer friendly visitor) are two other volunteers who give their all to the BAH program. As an immigrant, James found that he was learning a great deal about Canadian culture and the elderly through volunteering.

    Meanwhile, Lynn commented that while mobility may be a problem for some of the seniors she visits, they are still full of energy. They all live very rich lives, James added. But James noticed that without his help, some seniors may not even leave their homes. Through his visits, he can see their spirits improve overtime. 

    “I love the work here so much,” James proudly commented.

    Lynn further remarked that she often receives gratitude for her services, but at the end of the day she has to thank the seniors as well. She enjoys their company as much as they enjoy hers.

    With the help of volunteers and staff alike, seniors can choose to remain in their homes while maintaining their independence. As stated by Jocelyn Wong, Volunteer Richmond’s General Manager, “we are here to support volunteers support seniors.”

    Here's to another great year - thanks again to all our volunteers!

    The BAH staff team

    Want to learn more? If you’d like to become a Better at Home volunteer please visit the Richmond Better at Home webpage for more information, or call us at 604-279-7021. 

    Together, let’s create a more caring community for seniors.

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