Local volunteers give back

(Suzy Wells, Volunteer Coordinator with Hinchinbrook Farm Society. Photo: Tiffany Pope)

National Volunteer Week, April 16 -22, is a time to honour those in the community who give generously of their time and expect nothing in return.

To mark the occasion, we spoke to four dedicated volunteers in the region.

Susan Crouse: Mealtime Volunteer, Harbour View Haven

Harbour View Haven is a long-term care home in Lunenburg that has been a pillar of the community on Blockhouse Hill for over 50 years.

Susan Crouse recently celebrated 10 years of volunteer service since she began volunteering in February 2013.

As a former nurse’s aide at the home, Crouse knew she wanted to return as a volunteer once she retired.

“I love the interaction with residents, staff, volunteers and family members,” says Crouse.

“We listen to a lot of music, and even if someone is living with advanced dementia, once the music starts playing, everyone is tapping their feet or singing along.”

Crouse volunteers diligently every evening from Mondays to Fridays to help serve meals and feed residents. She also assists with outdoor picnics, bingo nights and other celebrations.

As an active volunteer her whole life, Crouse was thrilled to resume her role at the home after in-person volunteering was suspended during the pandemic.

“Each conversation I have at Harbour View Haven makes my day a bit brighter, and I hope I have made their days a bit brighter too,” she says.

Crouse says she hopes more volunteers sign up to help residents with their meals. To learn more, visit: https://www.hvh.ca/  

Anna Duckworth: Chair, Board of Directors; South Shore Harbour House

The South Shore Harbour House is a non-profit organization in Bridgewater providing shelter and counselling support for women and their dependent children fleeing situations of intimate partner violence.

A volunteer board of directors governs the shelter, each of whom contributes to subcommittees to best serve the needs of Harbour House.

Anna Duckworth joined the board in August 2021 because she saw it as “an opportunity to redirect some of my energy as a single mother to support other women and children in precarious situations.”

As chair of the board, she facilitates collective leadership to advance decisions that support the executive director and staff in providing a critical service to the community.

“Violence against women is pervasive,” says Duckworth. “Organizations like the Harbour House are an essential lifeline in our community that are grossly under-resourced in terms of staffing and funding, and as a result, there is little opportunity to raise awareness to get them the support they need.”

Duckworth says she will do anything she can to support the women and children often overlooked in public policy.

To learn more about supporting Harbour House, visit: https://harbour-house.ca/  

Kevin Taylor: Volunteer Firefighter, Lunenburg and District Fire Department

The Lunenburg and District Fire Department has approximately 55 volunteer firefighters who train and serve the emergency needs of Lunenburg and Districts 1 and 2 in the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg. Kevin Taylor began volunteering after moving to Lunenburg in 2019 to get involved in the community.

“It’s become my safe haven,” he says. “It’s something I hope to do for the rest of my life, and I don’t want anything in return.”

Taylor wears a pager 24/7 and he says every time it beeps, if he’s available, he makes the decision to go help someone in need.

He says there are about 150 calls a year, with emergency responses lasting anywhere between 30 seconds to 18 hours and ranging in severity.

“Each experience sits with me after in a different way,” he says. “Something I struggle with is not knowing what happens to the people we help after a call, for example, after they go to the hospital.”

The Lunenburg Fire Department provides opportunities for self-care and debriefing to help volunteers cope after intense calls. They respond not only to fires, but also to emergency rescue, water rescue, and other urgent calls.

Taylor says training is ongoing, with frequent opportunities to learn how to use firefighting equipment, breathing apparatuses, ice-rescue tools, and other life-saving measures.

Learn more at: https://townoflunenburg.ca/fire-department.html  

Suzy Wells: Volunteer Coordinator, Hinchinbrook Farm Society

Hinchinbrook Farm is a non-profit society in Blockhouse that provides therapeutic horseback riding to support the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of people who are differently abled. Its main clients are families with autism.

Suzy Wells is a social service worker who began volunteering at the Farm in 2022. As Volunteer Coordinator, she leads the recruitment and support of about 50 fellow volunteers. On top of providing orientation and coordinating all volunteer paperwork, Wells also helps with other aspects of the farm. This includes everything from “assisting with equine therapy for children, to grooming and feeding horses, to picking up poop.”

Prior to volunteering at Hinchinbrook Farm, Wells helped with equine-assisted therapy in Ontario for over five years, learning the skills in hopes of supporting veterans.

She believes passionately in the therapy, saying she was eager “to give back to the community that helped me.”

“I really enjoy spending time with children and the horses,” Wells adds. “It’s important to me and very fulfilling – and we always need more volunteers.”

Learn more at: https://hinchinbrookfarm.com/


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