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HAMILTON COMMUNITY NEWS COMMUNITY IS SPONSORED BY:

Photo by Laura Lennie

Photo by Laura Lennie

Wilma MacNeil has been involved with Stoney Creek Seniors Outreach Services since 2006. The 71-year-old Stoney Creek resident has been an SOS household and transportation services volunteer, along with an office volunteer. She’s also the organization’s vice-president.

SOS seeks ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference

Non-profit group needs office help

By Laura Lennie, News Staff

Wilma MacNeil says being a Stoney Creek Seniors Outreach Services office volunteer is extremely gratifying.

“It’s very gratifying to be a contact, someone that can assist a client in finding a solution to whatever it is they need and help put their mind at ease,” the 71-year-old Stoney Creek resident said. “Sometimes, they don’t have family to talk to and come and help. We’re just ordinary people that like to help in the community and that’s what we’re all about.”

SOS is a non-profit organization that assists senior citizens and disabled persons to remain independent and in their homes through household and transportation services. The organization also offers information and referral services.

Office volunteers answer the phone, speak with clients and write down what they need. They then reach out to other SOS volunteers. Client needs are matched to the right volunteer.

MacNeil became involved with SOS in 2006 after she retired from the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board where she was an educational assistant and president of the educational assistants union.

MacNeil has been an SOS household and transportation services volunteer. She’s also the organization’s vice-president.

MacNeil said she was looking to give back to the community after she retired.

“I wanted to get involved in volunteering. I was looking for something to do with seniors – I’d been with kids all my career, so I thought I’d do something different – I heard about SOS, contacted them and joined up right away,” she said. “I just think it’s the greatest organization around and I can honestly say that everybody that’s involved are earnestly and honestly committed to the organization, which makes it run so easy. If somebody can’t come in, there’s somebody right there to jump in.”

MacNeil said SOS has between 400 and 500 clients.

That range tends to stay level, she added.

“There’s always new people calling asking about our service and becoming clients,” she said. “The needs vary. We do a lot of rides – somewhere between 200 and 300 rides a month.”

MacNeil said there’s always a need for more office volunteers.

“No matter who it is, there are days you can’t come in. People go on holidays or other things, so you’re always needing somebody to fill in,” she said. “Filling in doesn’t have to be every week, it could be every other week or once a month. We’re willing to be flexible with whatever people can provide, whatever people can give us, we’re happy to take.”

MacNeil said there’s also training available for those interested in becoming office volunteers.

No matter how many hours you put in at the office, it feels good to know you’re helping somebody out when they call with a need, regardless of how simple or difficult it is, she added.

“It’s a good way to give back to the people that have built this country and have worked hard for us to make life what it is today,” MacNeil said. “It’s that great feeling of knowing you’re doing a service for somebody and they appreciate it. The clients are so grateful and that makes your heart enlarged to see those kind of things.”

MacNeil said she will continue to be involved with SOS for as long as she can.

“There’s a sense of accomplishment in knowing that after I finished my duties as a working individual, I became involved in something where your rewards are not a paycheck. Your rewards are the service that you provide and the gratefulness you get from the people that you help,” she said. “When people get involved in volunteering, there’s just something about that whole concept of what you do is fulfilling. It really is fulfilling.”

SOS is in need of office volunteers.

For more information on how to get involved, call the office at 905-643-1919.

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