A Celebration during Hard Times

They are everywhere among us – quietly, unobtrusively going about their business. Often they are almost invisible, unless we know who they are and what they are doing. They are the hundreds of volunteers who assist West Island non-profit organizations. They are the people who – through their dedication and hard work – make possible many of the crucial services these groups provide to West Island residents.

This has become even more important during the current pandemic. Volunteer West Island’s (VWI) regular volunteers and new volunteers recruited by Andrea De Rome, Volunteer Coordinator for Individuals at VWI are out and about, making a vast difference in the community. Executive Director Lynda Barrett explains, “We’re serving and protecting seniors who are unable to cook for themselves or require assistance in obtaining groceries. The majority have been referred by municipalities, one of three CLSCs, community professionals, or are users of our Meals on Wheels program”.

VWI would like to share stories about some of the volunteers helping these residents. The difficulty is, of course, choosing whom to profile among these amazing folk! We have selected a couple who illustrate the work of many. 

In the words of Shelley Hayden, Outreach Coordinator at Volunteer West Island:

“Octavio (Paul) Rotaru, a Beaconsfield citizen, works from home, takes care of his family, and shops for isolated seniors after work. He’s always ready and willing to help out, no matter how long or short the grocery list is. He also shops multiple times a week and has made connections with our vulnerable senior clientele. He’s getting popular, seniors ask for him specifically! A star in this crisis!”

As an academic and the Lead Solution Architect for a major telecommunication software company, Paul usually travels a great deal – as he says, “from Rome to Rio and everything in between – but due to the pandemic I’m stuck at home – and volunteering keeps me focused. I am trying my best to help the community in which I live – and do the little that I can to contribute. My sincere hope is that by volunteering during Covid-19, I can help protect vulnerable people and improve things for our community to win this together”.

Hilary Jones has a long history of volunteer work. “I have volunteered since I was a kid. My parents both volunteered so it’s always been a part of my life. My family is in lockdown in the UK, my mother and my mother-in-law. Volunteers are grocery shopping for them so I’m paying it forward. It’s a global pandemic, and we need a global response on a local level. We’re all in this together.”

“Hilary has been another star volunteer for me these past few weeks. She shops for groceries for seniors whenever and wherever they want. She stays and chats with them for quite a while too. People are lonely and she is the perfect antidote to this feeling, if only temporarily”, says Shelley.

These are but two examples of the outstanding people who have come forward to help fill crucial needs for others and keep the West Island community functioning with a semblance for normalcy. As Paul Rotaru says, “We all need to stick together and help each other in these unprecedented times”.

Volunteers make a difference in the community!

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