Staff and residents from RMV show their appreciation for the volunteers who enrich their lives. From left to right: Shelley Moulton, Darlene Hutchinson, Betty Schanni, Mark Hudock, Victor Myette, Elinor Siska, Melissa Roger, Anita Braconnier. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

‘We can’t wait for you to come back’: Rocky Mountain Village residents show appreciation for volunteers

Volunteers can’t make in-person visits, but that hasn’t stopped them staying in touch

The residents of Rocky Mountain Village (RMV) have come together to show their appreciation for the volunteers that are helping them stay connected to the outside world.

Residents made and held up a banner saying they appreciated and missed the volunteers that would normally pay them visits.

In a normal year, volunteers help keep the residents company, but according to Shelley Moulton who is RMV’s Recreation Therapist, that hasn’t been possible.

“We haven’t had any volunteers be able to come in and spend one-on-one time with our residents,” she said. Instead, volunteers have been keeping in touch via phone and zoom.

Even without the in-person visits, the RMV is still observing Volunteer Appreciation Week.

“We’ve made a banner to let the volunteers know that the residents appreciate them, and miss them,” said Moulton.

Lots of groups would normally come by to keep the residents company and to talk, play and participate with them. Residents and staff at the RMV wanted to recognise everyone that came by, and still stayed in touch despite everything that was keeping them away.

A shopping list of the work that volunteers put in makes it easy to understand why they were so appreciated – and deeply missed.

The Fernie Lions Club would do BBQs for seniors and families, and the Fernie Ghostrider Hockey Club assist each year with setting up and taking down Christmas decorations. They would also normally visit each Thursday to help with weekly bingo games. The RMV ladies auxiliary provide special gifts for all occasions, Fernie Life Skills visit monthly for bingo, students from the Fernie Academy would visit in Fall and once a week to play games with the seniors, while young students from playschools would visit for games and do crafts.

Besides the community groups, music groups would also pay visits, Church groups would provide spiritual support and volunteers would bring their pets.

“We had over 80 volunteers share their time in one way or another,” said Moulton. “Our seniors and staff truly miss our volunteers. They add to our senior’s day and make a difference in their lives.”

RMV resident Betty Schanni said that volunteers helped with loneliness.

“It’s nice to have pleasant company and conversation,” she said. “It always brightened my day and may me feel happy to spend timer with them.”

Resident Mark Huddock said he loved the games and the connection.

“I enjoyed playing games with the Academy student volunteers, and I am thankful to the volunteers for putting together my iPod shuffle playlist. I enjoyed receiving letters from my pen pal, she always sent near letters.”

Elinor Siska said she appreciated the help, and knew what it was like being a volunteer as well.

“I had volunteers help make a song playlist for me which makes me very happy. I used to volunteer here so it’s nice to be on the other end of it now.”

Volunteer Appreciation Week – which s an annual event – goes from April 18 to April 24 this year., and is meant to recognise the time and deciation that volunteers around the world put in to charities and not-for-profit organizations.

READ MORE: ‘We have such a good group here’: Local senior keeps head held high throughout pandemic
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