The power of people

Surrey Memorial Hospital volunteer wayfinders Ron MacKinnon and Pravdeep Sekhon give directions to young man at the hospital Thursday afternoon. - Evan Seal / The Leader
Surrey Memorial Hospital volunteer wayfinders Ron MacKinnon and Pravdeep Sekhon give directions to young man at the hospital Thursday afternoon.
— image credit: Evan Seal / The Leader

For Herbert Brandt, satisfaction comes from within.

Brandt has volunteered with Deltassist Family and Community Services as a volunteer driver and visitor since 1993.

Each week until recently, he would take a patient for doctor or hospital appointments or would take a senior out for a drive to lift their spirits.

He call volunteering a great experience.

“To be a volunteer means to be a person who makes a choice to reach out to others for their good without demands for rewards,” says the 86-year-old Delta retiree. “A true volunteer receives much more than she/he has given.”

He started volunteering while semi-retired after 40 years as a church pastor.

Although Brandt has been forced to take a break due to health reasons, he wants to get back to a visitor role with Deltassist.

For now, he occasionally volunteers as a host at functions at the Delta Museum and Archives – the thought of being a docent has crossed his mind, but he deemed it too demanding at his age.

“I prepare the teas and goodies,” he beams.

For more information about volunteering with Deltassist, visit or


Food for volunteering thought

For the last 10 years, about 40 seniors in Tsawwassen have maintained their independence with the assistance of the Safeway Phone Shop Program.

Registered seniors are provided a special phone line to the store, where once a week, volunteers will take their orders and have Safeway deliver them.

“It works really well,” says Lynn Walker, Senior Services Coordinator at Deltassist, which runs the program with the help of about 15 volunteers.

Deltassist now is preparing to expand into North Delta.

Once the program begins later this spring, each Tuesday from 8:30-11 a.m., seniors that have registered will be able to call volunteers on a special phone number at the Sunshine Hills Safeway store.

The volunteers, like in Tsawwassen, will do the shopping and Safeway will deliver the groceries.

All of North Delta and a small part of Surrey will be covered by the program.

Deltassist needs both volunteers and a part-time coordinator before the program is to begin.

Carly Geistlinger, Deltassist’s Community Services coordinator, is optimistic.

“We never seem to be short of volunteers when we put the call out. The community always responds.

There are currently 155 active long-term, seasonal and on-call volunteers with Deltassist.

To learn more about the Safeway Phone Shop Program or about volunteering in general, call Lynn at 604-946-9526 (South Delta) or Lorraine at 604-594-3455 (North Delta).


Healthy volunteering

“We’re probably the biggest show in town” says Sharon Frizell, manager of Volunteer Resources at Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH).

Hospital volunteers currently number about 800, with 200 solid regulars.

The volunteers assist with wayfinding, meeting-and-greeting and support in dozens of areas, including the emergency department, palliative care, pediatrics, Acute Care for the Elderly and Rehabilitation Services.

The volunteers help reduce stress for patients and their families.

Frizell says the volunteers provide practical psychological support, explain the role of triage, call taxis, provide pamphlets about social service agencies, give toys to children and spend time with lonely patients.

“It’s so varied – whatever they need.”

Volunteers are required for six-month commitments. Some often continue volunteering for years.

Hospital managers and staff, Frizell adds, appreciate the role that volunteers play – especially as the hospital prepares for its upcoming expansion, which will require an additional 250 volunteers.

For more information about volunteering at SMH, visit


One-stop volunteering

Not sure where to direct your spare time?

The Surrey Volunteer Centre can help you find a good match.

The centre, run by Options Community Services Society, offers a one-on-one referral service that runs Tuesday to Friday.

All you need to do is call, book a one-hour appointment and sit with an expert who’ll point you to the right non-profit agency or government agency, says volunteer centre coordinator Marilyn Cross.

While Options is involved in hiring volunteers for the Fraser Health Crisis Line, the volunteer referral program is geared towards finding some 300 clients each year the best fit with volunteer opportunities in Surrey and surrounding communities.

Those agencies must be non-profit, in the spirit of volunteering.

Cross gives an example of a young Korean immigrant who was looking for Canadian work experience and an opportunity to improve her English.

The “lovely girl,” a beautician, could not be referred to for-profit hair salons, so Options was able to coordinate a role for her as a hair stylist for folks at a local seniors centre.

With outside-the box thinking like that, says Cross, she could practice English while seniors got free haircuts.

To learn more about local volunteering opportunities, call the Surrey Volunteer Centre at 604-584-5811 or visit


Other volunteering opportunities

• The Surrey Museum is recruiting volunteers for its elementary school programs. It offers training, a flexible commitment, and a satisfying experience. For more information, call 604-502-6461.


• The Canadian Cancer Society Leadership is recruiting volunteers for its Spring Daffodil Campaign. If you have a desire to plan events, network in the community and help a worthwhile cause, call Inge Smith at 604-533-1668, Ext. 326 or email


• The Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s White Rock office is looking for both office volunteers and support group facilitators. A commitment of 2-4 hours weekly or bi-weekly over a one year time period is required. Contact Avalon at 604-541-0606 or email To learn more, visit


• There is currently a big need for new Big Sister volunteer mentors. There are currently 125 girls waiting to be matched with a Big Sister throughout the Lower Mainland, with 46 of those girls living in the Surrey/Delta area. For more information, visit


• Parkinson Society British Columbia needs volunteer group facilitators. Activities may include planning and leading the monthly meeting and arranging for occasional speakers. Facilitators must be responsible and compassionate, must understand the issues affecting people with Parkinson’s or others with chronic illness, and should have experience with groups and excellent communication and organizational skills. Training is provided. For more information, contact Robbin Jeffereys at 604-662-3240 or


• Do you have a genuine interest in helping wildlife – especially birds of prey? OWL Rehabilitation Society could use your help. Volunteers are needed for such duties as bird care, rescue pick-ups, general maintenance, landscaping, painting, construction, public tours and more. For more information, call 604-946-3171 or visit

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