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Volunteer Makes a Difference

It’s an atypical Monday in the Communitas home where Jill Dunbar volunteers. Usually the four women who live here attend a weekly worship service but today they’re staying home. This means Jill gets to do crafts, helping Marie create a lovely collage. It’s this interaction with the people that Jill loves the most about volunteering here.

“It’s a good feeling to be able to help people out,” she says.

Communitas Supportive Care Society supports people who live with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges. One of the services offered is 24/7 residential care in homes like the one in which Jill volunteers. What makes Jill unique is that she herself also lives with a developmental disability but this does not stop her from living a full life and contributing to the lives of others. She’s been volunteering in this home for nearly two decades.

On most Mondays, she accompanies the women on outings, sets the table for lunch and loads the dishwasher, sweeps the floors and wipes down the kitchen counters. She helps with the laundry and often includes one of the women when it comes to folding it. Sarah Norris is the manager of the home and says having volunteers makes a huge difference.

“One of the best ways that Jill contributes is simply by being with and interacting with the women who live here,” she says. “She gives them quality time and attention and it frees up the staff to do other tasks.”

Sarah also says that volunteers are able to have a different relationship with the people who are served by Communitas because they’re not seen as workers or staff but simply as friends.

Jill offers this gift of friendship at other Communitas programs as well, including Choices and Connections day service where she does crafts with the program participants. Every other Tuesday she visits the Cottage, a senior’s facility in Abbotsford, where she helps residents get to the in-house hairdresser for their appointments. On Thursdays, she volunteers at O’Neill’s, a local diner, where she takes customer’s orders, brings food to the tables, and keeps the music playing on the restaurant’s computer so that diners have an enjoyable experience. While it feels like a busy schedule, Jill doesn’t seem to mind.

“It keeps me out of trouble,” she says with a smile.

When she’s not volunteering, she enjoys going to movies, hanging out with friends at the mall, visiting with her family or playing with Princess, her cat. And for anyone who is considering giving their time as a volunteer, Jill encourages this.

“Yes, you should definitely do it,” she says. “It’s a good thing to do.”

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