Betty Novak rings up coffee and snacks at least once a week at Monterey Recreation.
After two decades doing it for pay, now the longtime volunteer cashier at Fern Café is in it for free and fun.
“I moved here from Vancouver and my daughter, she said ‘why don’t you volunteer?’” Novak said. The shifts offer a good way to make acquaintances and use the skills she developed as a cashier for 20 years at Simon Fraser University.
“I love people. I like to help people,” she said. Novak is the sort of cashier who will walk a coffee to the table if someone’s having a challenge with the walk.
“The members who come here, they are wonderful people,” Novak said.
She also attends exercise classes but isn’t a member of any of the other myriad clubs at Monterey. Among her new friends is fellow volunteer Terry Osborne.
“We have fun Betty and I,” says Osborne, who has travelled to Fern Café for Friday shifts for 18 months. It’s one of her three volunteer jobs.
“I’m retired and I enjoy giving back,” said the Fairfield resident who also does work with CNIB and James Bay Community Project. “It’s cool. I like it, it’s worth the trip (to Oak Bay).”
Monterey volunteers are all members of the centre and many of them wear multiple hats as volunteers and participants in clubs, courses and special events.
“It’s a busy operation … we’re always looking for volunteers,” said Lesley Cobus, Monterey Recreation co-ordinator.
“To be part of a friendly, vibrant community, using their skills and working with people, gives (volunteers) a sense of purpose and adds meaning to their lives in retirement.”
With a membership beyond 2,000, more than 100 spend some of their week volunteering at the centre.
“They make a huge difference here at the Monterey community,” Cobus said. “It keeps our food services affordable for members, and with food costs on the rise, that’s a concern.”
Monterey needs a few new volunteers for customer service roles, including café helpers, cashiers and Coffee Express attendants. Volunteers would ideally commit three hours a week, two to four times a month. Contact Joanne at 250-370-7309 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a meeting.