Simple things like neighbourhood walks, transportation and companionship can be vital for seniors.

A Community of Caring

Building connections through the Oak Bay Volunteer Services

At some point in our lives, we all need a little bit of extra help. For those facing the challenges of living with a chronic illness or adapting their lives as they age, these supports often come in the form of health care agency that sends paid caregivers to assist on a short or long-term basis.

But Oak Bay Volunteer Services does it differently. This non-profit organization bridges the gaps between those who need support and those who are able to volunteer their skills and time to help others, fostering a holistic, community-based model of caregiving.

“A really amazing thing about Oak Bay is that people are so passionate and committed to their community and volunteering in their community. It hasn’t been hard at all to find people who want to come and help support our services,” explains Renee Lormé-Gulbrandsen.

Renee Lormé-Gulbrandsen is the Executive Director of Oak Bay Volunteer Services, or OBVS.

OBVS is a charitable organization that provides transportation and companionship services to residents of this Vancouver Island community.

“We do one-to-one services in the community for anyone who needs it. This includes driving to appointments and errands, visiting people at home, assisting with basic home maintenance, and making ‘reassurance phone’ calls on a weekly basis to check in with our clients, and see how they’re doing,” she explains.

With a history of involvement in the Oak Bay community that dates back to 1977, OBVS is supported by a staff of four and a volunteer roster of more than 200. Most of these volunteers are seniors, and so are the clients they serve.

“The goal is to help people age in place, live independently and stay active,” explains Lormé-Gulbrandsen. “And even though the majority of clients are seniors, these services are available for anyone in our community who might need help filling some gaps, including young families, newcomers to the country and cancer patients.”

“One of the interesting things about [OBVS] is that in their time of need, and as they age, many of our volunteers start to take advantage of the services we offer,” points out Lormé-Gulbrandsen. “It really feels like a community.”

The businesses operating in Oak Bay also play a big role supporting the OBVS community. One example of this is the funding OBVS received through the TELUS Fibre for Good™ program.

Throughout 2017, the TELUS Fibre for Good program offered new TELUS customers the chance to benefit a charity in their community when they signed up for TELUS PureFibre™ or TELUS Mobility services. In Oak Bay, the program allowed TELUS to donate nearly $3,000 to OBVS.

“Because we are a completely service-driven organization, the TELUS Fibre for Good funding directly benefits all of our daily operations. That includes anything related to running our office, doing our volunteer training and workshops, the volunteer recruitment process, and supporting the cost of a social worker to go and meet our clients.”

“We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the Oak Bay community,” concludes Lormé-Gulbrandsen. “It really makes all the difference.”

Learn more about the Oak Bay Volunteer Services, visit oakbayvolunteers.bc.ca.

To find out more about how TELUS supports community organizations, visit telus.com/community.

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