December 05, 2012

Community Services promotes a gift of time

As published in The Erin Advocate

Now that we have entered the Christmas gift-giving state of mind, it is a good time to consider wrapping up something more precious than the stuff you buy in stores.

East Wellington Community Services is appealing not only for money and food bank supplies, but for people's time – a gift of volunteering.

"One of the best things you can give to anybody is time," said Erika Westcott, Manager of Community Services and Volunteers. "Three hours a week is huge – but you're not signing up for a full-time job."

EWCS can provide various volunteer experiences, with different amounts of time needed, and can help high school students get their required community service hours.

They have more than 50 programs and services, such as the food bank, children's services, the seniors adult day programs, active seniors activities and a new telassurance and friendly visiting program, through partnership with the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON).

"Without volunteers, there are things that we just wouldn't be able to do. You are really helping people in the community."

It is also an opportunity to build new friendships, share your expertise, learn new skills or share in the responsibility of tending to some aspect of the operation.

"Volunteers bring in fresh ideas and talent," she said.

If you volunteer at the New To You thift clothing stores, or at the Bookends store, you are not only delivering a valuable service to the community, you are helping generate additional revenue for the agency. (The Hillsburgh store was closed recently, when it became too expensive to operate.)

There is also a need for drivers to take clients to medical appointments and transport materials. Volunteers also answer the phone, greet people at the front desk, handle supplies at the food bank and help transport seniors to the day program at Centre 2000.

Of course, a social service agency has to pay staff and many other expenses, and although they receive government funding for some things, they rely on local fundraising events and donations to support their budget.

"It helps to build a resource of stable funding," said Westcott. "Even five or ten dollars a month – it doesn't seem like a lot, but it makes a difference."

This week EWCS launched its Annual Appeal Campaign, with presentations by Board President, Allan Alls and their new Executive Director, Kari Simpson. A mailing has gone out, urging people to consider starting a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation to the agency during upcoming holiday season.

Simpson is a resident of Erin, and has more than 20 years of experience in the health and social services field. She was previously the Director of Health Services at Caledon Community Services. She knows EWCS very well, since she previously served as Board President.

Food donations are greatly appreciated at all times of the year, but a special effort is made to help food bank clients at Christmas. Food and toys are needed for Christmas hampers. If you would like to sponsor a family, or find out more about how you or your organization can help, call 519-833-9696 or visit