Keep in Touch program volunteer co-ordinator Donna Ensor (right) stands with volunteers Khanh Tran and Robin Reichl outside the West Shore RCMP detachment before delivering all of the holiday goodies.

West Shore volunteers provide lifeline to vulnerable in the community

So much more than a friendly voice on the other end of the line

A little extra holiday cheer can go a long way for members of the community who sometimes get forgotten at this time of year.

At least that’s the hope of Keep in Touch program volunteers, West Shore RCMP officers and auxiliary members, who were busy loading up two community policing vans with poinsettias and tins filled with cookies on Wednesday.

“This is just something we thought would be special for them … It’s a way to be with them,” said volunteer co-ordinator Donna Ensor. She’s been overseeing the program for 11 years and often takes extra shifts when others are sick or can’t make it in. “It’s just such a wonderful program.”

Organized through the Community Policing Office of the local RCMP detachment, the program’s aim is to reach out to people who live alone or may have medical issues. Program clients receive a daily (Monday to Saturday) phone call at a scheduled time to check in and just say hello. If volunteers can’t get through, they will phone that person’s emergency contact, and if that fails, the detachment will send an officer over to investigate.

By dropping off these holiday treats, and the special tea they host in May, Ensor said, it allows program participants the chance to put a face to the voice that could be the only phone call they receive for the day.

One of the volunteers even created a card, with a picture and a name of all of the volunteers, so participants could see whom they were speaking with between special events.

“They appreciate it so much.” Ensor said often when they show up at doors with the holiday treats, clients are overwhelmed, and believe they should be doing something for the volunteers. Not the other way around.

Volunteers often establish a special bond with the person on the other end of the phone line, she said. “When they pass (away) it’s like you’ve lost a family member.”

The program has 34 clients and 15 volunteers and the service is only offered to West Shore residents. Ensor said she’s even had people tell her they want to move so they can be a part of it. She said a number of members of the community who would be a good fit for the program just don’t know about it, and she’s worried they’re missing residents.

“We’re always looking for new people because we know they’re out there,” she said.

For more information or to volunteer, phone the West Shore RCMP Community Policing office at 250-391-3327.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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