After dedicating years, and in some cases decades, to giving of themselves to others, a group of core Oak Bay volunteers found themselves on the receiving end last week.
Pins were handed out to volunteers in recognition of five, 10, 15 and 30 years of service to Oak Bay Volunteer Services at the organization’s annual general meeting last week.
“We were so fortunate to have so many people get awards. There were actually 30 volunteers receiving awards today,” said executive director Joan Halvorsen.
“It really is special when we get a chance to thank the people who have dedicated themselves for so long with our organization.”
Halvorsen said she’s amazed by the wide variety of tasks the volunteers have provided, from shopping and garden work, to office administration and serving on the board of directors.
“They’re people not only very giving in their heart but people who are also very talented.”
Halvorsen handed out three pins to recognize 30-years of service, one going to longtime volunteer Doris Dinsmore.
“She is the longest serving office volunteer we have ever had,” Halvorsen said, pointing to the nearly 30 years she spent answering the office phones. “It is hard to imagine how many people she has talked to and helped.”
Dinsmore, who was also the longtime chair of the group’s board of directors, said she’s always liked to be involved, also devoting time to other groups such as the Girl Guides.
“It makes you feel good. You get on the line and you talk to people and are arranging this and arranging that. I think you get back what you give,” she said.
Doris’ husband Bert Dinsmore was also recognized with a 30-year pin.
“Bert’s focus for volunteering has been gardening and minor repairs for many people,” said Halvorsen, who recounted a story of one jungle of weeds that he transformed into a beautiful garden.
“Bert has always brought a kind and caring approach, along with a sense of fun.”
Dinsmore said he has always found time to volunteer, starting the first teen club in Canada when in high school and still helping out with his church today.
“I guess it’s just part of my nature to do that. It keeps me busy and it never interfered with my golf game,” he says with a chuckle.
Cindy Ayles was the third recipient of a 30-year pin.
Ayles volunteered in the OBVS office for 27 years, taking care of typing as well as dealing with donations, issuing receipts and bank deposits.
“When Cindy signed up she offered [that she] ‘can be called any time if needed’ and we called often. In addition to the office work, she helped with numerous displays and assisted with the set up and cleanup of many of our events including AGMs and holiday parties,” said Halvorsen.
Ayles also helped with ongoing reading for a client and served as secretary for the board of directors for 10 years.
“Often it is not only what a person does, but how they do it that really counts. Cindy has always brought a gracious, enthusiastic and joyful attitude,” said Halvorsen.
Ayles said she started with Oak Bay Volunteer Services not long after moving to the community, mainly as a way of meeting new friends.
“I would really miss it if I stopped,” said Ayles. When asked if she plans to continuing her work as a volunteer, she quickly replied, “Oh yeah, sure, I’m only 92 now.”