West Shore RCMP auxiliary constable volunteers James Hollis and Khanh Tran teach Ecole Poirier elementary Grade 4 students James Mullen and Orianna Reda the importance of bicycle safety at the Fire and Life Safety Expo at Metchosin Fire Hall on Tuesday.

West Shore RCMP celebrates volunteers for community contributions

National week of recognition highlights spirit of giving

National Volunteer Week, on through Saturday, gives organizations a good excuse to give their unpaid helpers a pat on the back, especially if they won’t do it for themselves.

“We don’t do it for recognition, we do it because we want to do it,” said James Hollis, a volunteer auxiliary Constable with the West Shore RCMP.

At the detachment, volunteers fill a variety of roles. Besides serving as auxiliary police officers, volunteers run Keep In Touch (checking up on seniors), restorative justice initiatives and the Speed Watch program.

All told, volunteers donate thousands of hours of their time to the force.

“Our volunteers are a significant piece within our community policing,” West Shore RCMP Cpl. Kathy Rochlitz said. “The programs they support in our community, and help out with, are fantastic. They make a big impact.”

Hollis, a Canadian Forces Captain, has been volunteering since 2005 and said the experience has been “incredibly rewarding.”

“It’s not all altruistic, where you put out and get nothing back. Putting in a shift or doing a program and then going home at the end of the day is incredibly satisfying,”he said. “Knowing that you’re contributing to the community and helping make the community safer gives you a real sense of ownership of the community. You’re very much a part of it.”

Khanh Tran is a brand-new auxiliary, having graduated from the training program in March. The same sense of giving back to the community, plus gaining knowledge and experience for the future, prompted her to volunteer.

“For the longest time I’ve always wanted to be involved in the police force, so it’s been an ongoing long-term goal,” she said. “We’re all on the same page, we want to be here, we want to learn and give back.”

Every year during National Volunteer Week the detachment sends each of its 70-plus volunteers – they range in age from 19 to their 80s – a letter of appreciation.

“They do great work on so many levels of our community and it’s just a good time for us to all recognize the work they do,” Rochlitz said. “The group of volunteers at our office are the most humble people. They come out out of the goodness of their hearts and give so much to our community. We can’t thank them enough.”

The RCMP is always looking for new volunteers. To apply, visit rcmp-grc.gc.ca or stop by the detachment at 698 Atkins Ave. in Langford.

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com

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