This month we are featuring longtime volunteer Gwen Hayhurst. We asked Gwen to tell us some fun things about herself, and she replied, "I have fabulous grandkids and kids I was missing due to COVID-19. I like to walk on the dyke, go camping, sew and crochet, and cross-country ski."
Gwen found about Hospice through a donation she made when she won a prize from a raffle ticket and donated some of the money to the AV Hospice Society. She got a call from a volunteer thanking her and thought it would be a good place to volunteer. "I like to volunteer! In the past, I volunteered as an ambassador for Port Alberni. I currently volunteer with other places like canvassing for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and Community Policing. I started volunteering in high school by selling brooms to help my school band earn money."
Gwen currently volunteers with the Fundraising Committee. "I won the prize in the raffle in 2017, and when I got money with that prize, I donated some of it back and Judy Dore phone to thank me. I said it would be a good thing to volunteer, and then the next thing you know, I was volunteering. I started with the 50/50 Meat Draw and thought it would get me out doing something, meeting new people, and it's a fun thing to do. The 50/50 Meat Draw finished, so I sold raffle tickets with Karen Steinicke, which was great because we became friends."
Gwen spoke of her first impressions of AV Hospice. I think it's an excellent thing to have in the valley. In the beginning, I only knew about Ty Watson House and thought it was fantastic. It is great because then people aren't in the hospital. It's a place where they can feel at home. It's great to have a place you can go because I have known people who have only had friends to take them in." Gwen talked about what motivates her to stay involved with our organization, and she answered, "Oh, I like you guys. It is a good opportunity to give back to the community, and it's not like it's every day or a specific day. I'm not good at tying myself down to a set time, so it works."
We love to ask our volunteers what they think is the most essential program or service that AV Hospice offers, and Gwen had this to say, "Well, since I know most about Ty Watson, I would say that program. Only since I started volunteering did I find out about other programs like reflections and counseling. People are very dedicated to the house, and it was hard to get started. Getting the Vancouver Island Health Authority onboard, the elevator, and all the things needed to get it up to code. I think at the hospital, there isn't enough family support, and the staff doesn't have as much time."
Gwen had this to say about why it is important to her to continue to volunteer with AV Hospice, "They're dedicated, and I like what they stand for. I was a nurse, so I like the fact that it's health orientated and necessary. Volunteering makes you get out and do something productive and not paid for and makes you feel good. There are so many things to do as a volunteer." Gwen said volunteering taught her, "that we are all different, we all have value, and we can all be beneficial to our community."
Gwen reminisced on special times before COVID-19, saying, "I don't get to go to the house and have those close moments, but if I can raise funds for Ty Watson House, I will! I remember Christmas before COVID-19, folding envelopes and painting Christmas ornaments." We asked Gwen for some inspiring words for those thinking about volunteering. "I would say you would be a very valuable asset because volunteers are always needed. You will learn lots and meet people and help the people in your community." Gwen finished off by letting us know what keeps her with AV Hospice, "I like everyone. Really, if you're comfortable with the people you are associating with and happy with what you're doing, it's easy for you to stay."