Saanich Volunteer Services executive director Brenda Lynn with board members Nansi Blenkiron, Lynne Graham and Sarah McQuillan at the SVS 25th anniversary party. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Planning another 25 years of aging in place

Brenda Lynn takes the helm of Saanich Volunteer Services

There was a lot of questions for new executive director Brenda Lynn when she joined Saanich Volunteer Services six months ago.

But bringing people together wasn’t one of them.

Lynn was just a month into the job when SVS held its 25th anniversary back in October. She helped honour volunteers who had been there from the start, when SVS started as a concept off the corner of a desk in Saanich municipal hall.

“The volunteers are amazing for what they do, they bring seniors out into the community and help them overcome the obstacles,” said Lynn, who handles the lead role with SVS after five years as director of the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Communities Oncology Network. “Even though I already lived in Saanich before joining, when you become part of SVS, you become a part of a bigger community. When you meet the clients you can understand why we’ve been here 25 years.

“You want a community of neighbours helping neighbours,” she added.

Among the challenges Lynn faces is a growing client base and a senior-based group of longtime volunteers, some of whom are transitioning to become clients.

Despite the growing demands, the mission at SVS remains the same, to offer support for seniors aging in place and for older adults in assisted living.

“How can we manage so many programs, how do we deliver a blended model with volunteers?” Lynn said.

Even after a quarter century in the community, more people could learn of SVS, she added.

“We don’t have a storefront. Is that something we need?” she wonders.

Another challenge SVS faces with helping people age in place is connecting with those potential clients. Sometimes, it’s families who are supporting a senior family member and they don’t know about SVS. Other times there are older adults in need of support, yet they’re too embarrassed or proud to ask or accept it.

One breath of fresh air has been a co-op program with UVic students.

But there is still a need for volunteers, whether it’s driving seniors to the doctor or grocery store, or to be part of the new Better at Home program, which is organized using SVS’s volunteer base.

To volunteer or learn more about SVS visit saanichvolunteers.org.

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