by Jesse Holth –
Volunteering is an important way to give back to the community – we all do better when we support each other and make time to connect in a meaningful way. Many organizations in our local region are working hard to bring back volunteers after Covid disrupted their programs. Find out how you can get involved:
Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank
splfoodbank.com – 9586 Fifth St, Sidney – 250-655-0679
“Our volunteer numbers dropped during the pandemic and are slowly returning,” says Bev Elder, Executive Director of the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank. The food bank is open year-round, and they are always looking for volunteers.
The roles vary from Client Intake, which requires some computer skills, to food distribution and sorting, as well as delivery driving. All of the positions have moderate to heavy lifting required, and most volunteer opportunities take place from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with Food Hamper Distribution on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and Extra Produce Distribution on Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
“The Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank is powered by volunteers and couldn’t run without their dedication and hard work,” Bev adds.
Saanich Peninsula Hospital Auxiliary
sphaux.com – 250-544-7676 ext. 23400
Another long-running organization is the Saanich Peninsula Hospital Auxiliary, which supports the local hospital. They have been around since 1974, raising funds for hospital equipment and furnishings, as well as patient care and comfort.
“Because we have been around for over 45 years, our local community knows about us and, when they feel they can give back as a volunteer, they seek us out,” says Pauline Dance, current President of the Auxiliary. “Nearly everyone living on the Peninsula has used or visited the Saanich Peninsula Hospital for some reason or other. This community feels very strongly about keeping it open, working, and as up-to-date as possible.”
“We are all volunteers,” says Pauline. “During the year, we hold a mega garage sale, raffle ticket sales, and a Christmas Bazaar, where our bakers shine.” The hospital gift shop is run by the auxiliary seven days a week, closing only for major holidays, and crafts made by volunteers are available in the shop. “All monies raised goes to the care and comfort of residents and patients at our hospital,” Pauline explains.
To volunteer with the auxiliary, you can pick up an application form at the gift shop or send a message through the website – you can then select which activities you’d like to assist with. Member meetings are on the second Tuesday of every month, at 10 a.m. at the Saanich Fairground, where updates are provided on events, fundraising and other opportunities. The public is also welcome to attend.
The Farmlands Trust Society
farmlandstrust.org – firstname.lastname@example.org
The FLT Society is a non-profit organization that provides food redistribution through sustainable farming practises, at the historic Newman Farm in Saanichton. With their “field to plate” initiative, they grow and harvest fresh produce for Our Place Society’s regional meal and snack programs – serving Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable populations. In 2021, the FLT Society grew, harvested and shared over $62,000 worth of fresh, local produce.
Food security in our local region is the FLT’s mandate, and they invite volunteers to help with planting and harvesting from April to October, as well as their national award-winning pollinator-friendly meadow. Types of volunteer activities range from preparing seeds and starter plants, to maintaining the vegetable plots and raised garden beds – which may entail managing weeds, organic fertilizing of the plants, and tidying up the plots and beds to support optimal growth during the farm season.
Volunteers are encouraged to wear sturdy shoes or boots at Newman Farm, in addition to bringing their own gloves and wearing clothes that can get dirty; tools are available on-site for volunteers to use. For more information, you can visit farmlandstrust.org/join-us.
Peninsula Streams Society
peninsulastreams.ca – 9860 West Saanich Road
The mission of Peninsula Streams Society is to restore and protect aquatic ecosystems in the Greater Victoria area. Through research, restoration, innovative projects, public education and land stewardship, they aim to build healthy aquatic habitat that supports self-sustaining populations of native species in both freshwater and marine environments.
“ lots of upcoming opportunities for beach marine riparian planting, and stream riparian area plantings,” says Kyle Armstrong, Restoration Coordinator at Peninsula Streams Society. “We will also have some invasive species pulls, beach cleans and reed counting events this fall,” he adds. Volunteers can participate in ongoing stewardship groups as well, like the forage fish sampling teams and Rain Garden Stewardship groups, which are always looking for volunteers.
Take action to protect and conserve local watersheds – learn more under the “Volunteer” section of the website, where you can select the opportunities and locations you are interested in.
Photo by Kyle Armstrong.