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  • Writer's pictureMartin Zeilig

Volunteer Appreciation Evening

It was all peace, love and good fun both on and off the stage at Celebrations Dinner Theatre for the 17 Wing Canex Volunteer Appreciation Evening on May 26.

On stage it was the joyful musical Summer of ’69 a toe-tapping musical comedy with laughter, and some good old nostalgia, in the words of Director/Artistic Director Bob Cunningham.

Meanwhile, in the audience were 60 volunteers (and friends), the people who play an essential part in the work of the Military Family Resource Centre, Community Recreation, among other Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare organizations.

“The volunteers are extremely important,” Jenny Brennan, Program Manager of the MFRC, said during an interview, along with Alison Payne, the MFRC’s executive director, in the lobby of the dinner theatre.

“They bring a perspective that staff don’t always have. I think they bring a lot of real life experience when working with families.”

Ms. Payne also added that volunteers are needed more than ever now because regular staff at the MFRC are stretched for time.

“So, volunteers can fill in a lot of the gaps and can fulfill a lot of tasks that we’re not able to do,” she said.

“They’re the unpaid part of the workforce. Events like this are amazing because we get to show them our appreciation for the work they do. From an MFRC perspective, we have a volunteer board of directors, and they’re a governance board. So, they make a lot of decisions that are integral to the work we do going forward.”

Jenelle Hollinger, whose husband is 2Lt Graham Hollinger, has been volunteering at the MFRC for the past two years.

“I love it,” she said.

“I started off as a board member, and now I’m also volunteering as a nursery fill-in as an extra hand. I enjoy getting to know new people, and just being a friendly face to people coming in, whether they’re new or have been here awhile.”

She said the evening at Celebrations made her feel as if the volunteers were truly being appreciated.

“It feels amazing to be honoured as a volunteer person,” she continued.

“I really enjoy that we get to be celebrated, and I finally get the chance to meet other volunteers face-to-face and have a good time together.”

Ashley Clement, Recreation Coordinator for PSP, said the role of volunteers at the Recreation and Fitness Centre (Building 90) is to act as coaches in sports, help out at the different clubs, such as work hobby club, scuba club, and others, and during Christmas and other holiday gatherings.

“Our clubs would not run without volunteers,” she stressed.

Debbie Faucher, another longtime volunteer at the MFRC, says the best part of volunteering is meeting people from across the community, not just in the military. Her husband is Wing Chief Warrant Officer Claude Faucher.

“It’s enjoyable to get out and see people again,” she said of the evening at the dinner theatre.

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