by Moneca Jantzen
National Volunteer Week is coming up and it is the perfect time to celebrate all of the people in our community that volunteer their time to make Kamloops the vibrant community that it is. In the 2013 General Social Survey (GSS) on Giving, Volunteering and Participating it was found that around 4 in 10 Canadians volunteer their time and money. While more young people volunteer, senior volunteers tend to volunteer more hours. There is no question that the positive impact volunteering makes on a community as a whole is enormous. Judith Dueck, 62, is one great example.
A care aide by trade, having worked at Vernon’s Jubilee Hospital’s ICU before being sidelined by a disability a few years ago, Dueck is now living in Kamloops and she has found a way to put her experience to work and give back in a way that matters.
She has been a volunteer at Overlander Extended Care for the past four years. Dueck started helping out by taking residents to medical appointments or on shopping trips, to lunches, and golfing at The Dunes.
With the development of the 4-bed Trinity Hospice ward at Overlander in early 2017, Dueck saw an opportunity to put her experience and background to work by becoming a hospice volunteer. She underwent the 36-hour training course with 12 others and is one of the 4 or 5 from her group that continues to do the work.
Not everyone is equipped to be around palliative patients but Dueck enjoys her work and is quite passionate about it.
The formal description of this role includes one-on-one visiting; reading to patients; preparing coffee/light refreshments; supplying books, magazines, and puzzles; supporting families as needed; and being comfortable with sensitive situations amongst other things.
“Supporting residents and asking them what they need, if they want to talk, or if they want company, or someone to talk to,” is how Dueck describes her volunteer role at Overlander.
Following Dueck’s completion of the hospice training course, she was paired up with another volunteer for several weeks. Now they work opposite shifts on their own so they don’t see one another very often.
Fortunately, Overlander does hold occasional events acknowledging the contributions of their volunteers. Dueck recalled that they hold a big gathering in June where they get everyone together for a barbecue.
While there are some small perks that come with being a volunteer, ultimately it is caring for people and ensuring that they have quality of life until the end that keeps Dueck committed to her role.
“I like learning about people, hearing their story and being there for them and their families in any way I can. It’s my way of giving back.”
Dueck likes her work so much, she typically volunteers for up to 40 hours each month.
When she isn’t busy helping patients and families in Trinity, she will spend time in Evergreen, Southpark or Blueberry wards visiting with the residents. She talks with them or joins them for a walk in the fresh air or for a stroll down the hall. Dueck just wants to help out where she can.
Still too young to retire, this mother of three and grandmother of 11, admits she would still be working as a care aide had she not ended up on disability.
“Part of (why I volunteer) is because I miss the work that I was doing, and this is a way of giving back.” says Dueck.
“I love my job,” declares Dueck.
“Volunteering is a great way to look outside
your own problems. Giving back to makes you
happier by both giving you a sense of purpose and helping to put your problems in perspective.”
~ Karen Salmansohn