If the Red Cross equipment loan depot shuts down in Prince Rupert, people will have to drive to Terrace to borrow health items, such as wheelchairs and crutches. (Pixabay photo)

In Our Opinion: Volunteers URGENTLY needed

Red Cross may have to shut down its equipment loan depot if no one steps up to the plate

There aren’t enough volunteers to go around in this community.

Between volunteers for kid-friendly Hallowe’en events and other seasonal festivals, fundraisers, races, extracurriculars for children, the Rampage and then there’s those employed who work so many hours they may as well be volunteers… you know who you are.

Then there are the volunteers who get tied up in their organization for years, maybe even decades, and they know that if they leave that all the hours, the energy, the compassion, will disappear because there is no one left to take their place.

That is what the few volunteers at the Red Cross health equipment loan program at the Prince Rupert hospital are probably feeling right now.

Some of these volunteers have been working at the health equipment depot for up to 27 years — and they signed on after they retired from work.

The weight of keeping the depot open all these years has rested solely on their shoulders and now it’s time for them to move on for health reasons or other.

In an ad placed in the View in the past two week it states:

“Canadian Red Cross URGENTLY needs volunteers.”

READ MORE: Without volunteers Red Cross equipment loan depot may close

They’re not being dramatic with the all caps. If the few people in this community with even a little extra time can sign up the depot can remain open. If not, people who need to access wheelchairs, walkers, canes and other health gear needed to make their life easier will have to travel at least 140 km to Terrace where the next closest depot is.

There have been cases where the Red Cross was forced to shut down a depot in northern B.C. due to lack of volunteers. Sure, with Vanderhoof’s population of 4,400 and Hazelton’s population of 270, you’d half expect there wouldn’t enough volunteers to go around. But with Prince Rupert’s population of 12,200 (or higher) there must be four people who can be plucked from that number.

Terrace, which has a similar population as Rupert, is considered the ideal model, with 10 volunteers and a Red Cross depot that is open two days a week. Rupert’s is only open on Thursdays… now.

This isn’t a Northern Health problem, or a Red Cross problem, it’s a Prince Rupert problem.

There is a very large group of people who volunteer their butts off in this community, but there are also many who don’t. The next time you hear of someone complaining that they’re bored, or that they aren’t meeting new friends, or say they want to give back to the community in some way, suggest that they email volunteerbcy@redcross.ca.

Red Cross doesn’t need our money, it needs our time to keep this very important service going in our community.

READ MORE: Heart of Our City, Quarter-centure Red Cross volunteer


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