It is the equivalent of working 24 hours a day for more than 62 days straight.
After 13 years and 1,500 hours of volunteer service at the Victoria Women’s Transition House, Langford resident Tammy Dickeson is still going strong.
“I see the work the staff do there and they are all really dedicated. I like the fact I can go in there, take some mundane work off their hands,” Dickeson said. “(That way) they can spend more of their energy on the women there.”
Her role at the Transition House, a shelter that provides safety and support for women when they are most in need, is important to Dickeson and fuels her penchant for the small tasks many take for granted. From cleaning the rooms, watering plants, organizing the kitchen, sorting recycling or stocking toiletries, Dickeson does whatever it takes to make the women’s shelter a little more comfortable for residents, who are living through challenging times.
“Having had some abusive relationships in my past as a teen and young woman, it makes me want to give back to women who need to leave and want to leave,” she said. “I know how hard that it is and any small thing I can do to help them on their journey, I am happy to do it.”
Dianne DeChamplain, the volunteer co-ordinator at the Transition House, said Dickeson is one of the most dedicated volunteers she has ever seen. Dickeson was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Transition House in February, following up a CFAX Citation Rose she received for volunteerism in 2006. As a volunteer she has demonstrated that doing whatever it takes for people she has never met – and may never see again once they leave the home – is routine, DeChamplain said.
“Sometimes people undervalue the simple things people do that make a huge difference,” she said. “It helps to create that warm, welcoming, tidy place for women whose whole lives are in chaos. Even little things people do makes a big difference.”
Everything from the work Dickeson does around the house to her fundraising efforts – she’s helped raise more than $17,000 – is done with a creativity and class DeChamplain can’t say enough about.
“It is hard to put it into words. She is a model for other people who are thinking of volunteering. She sets a high standard and achieves it. She is great. Quite a special person.”
Dickeson, 51, a postal worker when not volunteering, believes her work at the Transition House isn’t yet done. She plans to be there lending a hand as long as women continue to come through the doors.
“I am going to stay there as long as the facility is needed. It would be lovely to say we don’t need shelters for women anymore, but I don’t know that it is ever going to happen,” she said. “For now, I will keep plugging away and if they need help, then I’m not far away.”