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Volunteer Spotlight: Robert Slade

Rob has always been involved in community work. He thinks that it was his parents who prompted him to start volunteering. They modelled volunteering as just a part of his life.

The BC Youth Parliament was one of the early forms, but certainly not the earliest. He had been involved in volunteer work even before that. Residing now in Port Alberni, Rob is engaged in the Hospice Society, Literacy Alberni, and the Emergency Support Services team, as well as helping with the Salvation Army and other churches around town.

When asked what motivates him to stay involved?

Rob stated that it is hard to say. He has always done it, so it's just a part of his life. But, in addition, he also said: "I am a grieving widower, and I have been displaced, twice within a year, from my community, and have lost my wife, and my best friend, and my job (because I was Gloria's caregiver for the last decade), as well as my community, and most of my friends (since they are terrified that I will mention Gloria, or death, or grief, you are not allowed to talk about that in our society). It is pointless to hope that someone new to the community will be interested in any of that and take steps to alleviate my pain. I can't do anything about that. But what I *can* do is reduce the suffering by helping others in pain. I guess that's possibly the closest that comes to outlining my motivation. It helps find some meaning in life, to help others. I frequently suggest, to those who are bereaved, and are finding difficulty in finding a purpose in life, that they try out volunteering in some form or other".

Rob has many interests and beautiful ideas; he just started the first "Guy's Walk and Talk" group. And he works with the Hospice Society on the "Guy Grief Support Group" concept. As the name suggests, those groups are only for grieving men, and already there is a great demand. He is also in the process of becoming a Ty Watson Hospice volunteer. In addition, there are plans to work in the library and open a book Club to discuss, exchange and reflect on the readings available to clients and volunteers.

When asked what he has learned about himself and/or about others while volunteering with AVHS?

Rob answered: "I am learning to value a smaller community's reduced requirements for formality. The welcome from the hospice society, and other groups in town, has shown you can become involved quickly in a smaller community than you can in the big city. If you are willing to help, people are willing to accept you. At this point in my life, as a grieving widower who has not to rebuild but completely build a new life for myself, I value this ability to contribute".

There is much more to say about Rob, and the best way to find out is to meet with him in person and get to know him. Thanks, Rob, for your beautiful insights and willingness to help others and share your experience. We are very blessed to have you onboard.

Welcome to the Alberni Valley Hospice Society!

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