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Dedicated volunteers help people on their recovery pathway

National Volunteer Week (NVW) is April 15-21, and is a time to celebrate and thank our volunteers who selflessly give their time to our help our staff, patients and families at BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services (BCMHSUS).
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This year's theme is: "Celebrate the Value of Volunteering – building confidence, competence, connections and community"

There are volunteer programs both within the Heartwood Centre for Women and the Burnaby Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (BCMHA), and these volunteers are considered valuable extensions to care teams.  

The volunteer program began in 2011, and since launching, has had 177 volunteers donate 7,000 hours of their time. Currently, there are 20 active volunteers at the centre. The program volunteers support in a variety of non-clinical areas at the centre, such as recreation therapy, art therapy, special events and the employability program (supporting clients who volunteer at the centre).

Two of their active and dedicated volunteers have shared their experiences working with staff and clients at the BCMHA. Without the support of these passionate and dedicated volunteers, there are many events and activities at the BCMHA that could not be offered to clients. We are thankful for their compassion, energy and knowledge they bring to our program areas, and the impact they have on clients' recovery journeys.

Sandra's story:

Sandra has volunteered at the BCMHA since April 2015. She is one of our most dedicated volunteers, generously donating her time twice per week to run the Burnatique, our used clothing store at the centre. In addition to supporting clients coming to Burnatique in order to receive much needed items, she also supports clients who volunteer in the boutique as part of the Employability program at the centre.

Sandra chose to give her time to BCMHA after seeing a posting on the goVolunteer website. She did not have much experience in mental health and addiction and thought it would be a good experience. She had previously volunteered in various organizations throughout the years in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she is originally from.

When asked what she enjoys about volunteering at BCMHA Sandra replied, "I enjoy interacting with clients that come to the Burnatique, and getting to know them  and being able to help them with  making their choices and finding things that make them feel good about themselves as individuals."

Allen's story:

Allen has volunteered at the BCMHA since April 2017. Allen generously donates his time once per week, always willing to help out where needed. He supports the Burnatique program, our general store Voucher Village, as well as the Leisure Buddy program which provides companionship and support to clients at the centre. His outgoing nature and supportive approach are a huge asset to our volunteer team.

In Allen's words, "I chose BCMHA because I wanted to further understand the various addictions that have been present in my own family. Coming from Nova Scotia to Vancouver, addictions are so much more visible here and present, especially in the downtown core. Back home everything hides under the surface and that affects our abilities to communicate about them. As a result of volunteering at BCMHA, I have learned a lot about the recovery process surrounding addiction. It's not a cookie-cutter case for everyone and all you can do is be patient and respectful. Everyone tackles their demons different ways, we just need to be available to support them."

accomplishments; BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services; Volunteer week
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