A local senior housing and personal care home community is hoping volunteers will soon return to their organization.

David Driedger is the CEO of HavenGroup. He says that while the opening of the newly renovated and expanded Rest Haven facility is very exciting for staff and residents, there is a gaping hole that remains to be filled.

“Over the course of the pandemic, our volunteer base has kind of disappeared,” Driedger notes. “We're now wanting to revisit that and bring back the volunteer community.”

Based in Steinbach, HavenGroup operates five senior housing complexes and the Rest Haven personal care home.

Driedger says Rest Haven has been in the news this year because of their large expansion which will ultimately house 143 residents.

“It’s an exciting time as the new facility is finally open and we are admitting new residents,” says Driedger. “It's a critical milestone, as it allows the community to take care of their own at home.”

He adds that due to the increased size of the Rest Haven facility, their need for volunteers is twofold. Not only are they hoping to see former volunteers return, but with more residents, the organization need volunteers more now than ever before.

Driedger says that volunteers bring the community back to the residents at Rest Haven, and volunteering could be almost anything.

“It could be as simple as, now in summertime, taking people out for a ride in the area in their wheelchair, to visit with them, read with them. Sometimes it's a small group thing, you could do a Bible study. Some of the larger groups would be singing or doing a group activity such as bingo. One-on-one volunteering could be simply puzzling with a resident. The opportunities are almost endless.”

Several local groups volunteer together at Rest Haven, but Driedger says at this point in time they’re focusing on finding more volunteers who will show up individually.

“We have a long tradition of groups getting involved. Those groups are very important for regular events such as church services,” reflects Driedger. “But what's becoming even more important is our need for individual, one-to-one volunteering with an individual or a small group of residents. For example, mealtime hosts – just to join in the mealtime and be present to carry the conversation at the table. That would be our most urgent requirement.”

In terms of numbers, Driedger says right now they’re looking for anywhere from 15 to 25 mealtime hosts to volunteer on a regular weekly basis, and emphasizes the importance of committed, regular volunteers who are on the schedule.

“If we know when volunteers plan to show up, we can organize other programming around that,” explains Driedger. “If people would get involved on a regular basis so their volunteering hours are scheduled ahead of time – that’s the key element we’re looking for, to help enhance quality of life for our residents.”

The volunteer opportunities at HavenGroup don’t stop there.

“It just goes on and on,” shares Driedger. “In the past, Rest Haven, for example, had over 100 volunteers on a regular basis. Some once a week, others once every couple of weeks. Now we're at just a handful.”

Driedger says volunteers bring the essence of community to residents of Rest Haven.

“For the residents, it communicates that they’re not alone. They continue to be a valued part of the community. By volunteering, you’re showing value to Rest Haven residents, that the community is still showing interest in their lives. We are community.”

Volunteers provide one of the most important aspects of life at Rest Haven, for folks who may feel a bit forgotten, and volunteers can enjoy an opportunity to serve in a first-class facility where they’re supported through education and instruction.

“It's a win-win for both the resident and the volunteer,” shares Driedger.

To volunteer for HavenGroup, call 204-346-0126 or visit https://havengroup.ca/volunteers/