‘I can’t imagine not volunteering’

From left to right, Sonya Jahn, Jaelyn Prediger, Kathy Horne and Mayor Greg Dionne pose for a photo during a ceremonial tree-planting in commemoration of National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 7-13. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Jaelyn Prediger first heard about the need for volunteers in Prince Albert’s healthcare facilities as a Grade 8 student at St. Anne School.

The proposal sounded interesting, so she thought she’d give it a shot. When she heads to the University of Regina this fall, Prediger will have spent five years volunteering, mostly at the Herb Bassett Home. When she looks back on those five years, Prediger has nothing but fond memories and thankfulness and appreciation for the opportunity.

“I’ve been doing it for five years (and) I never will (forget) the feeling of happiness that I get when I go home,” Prediger said. “Every Monday, when I go home, if I’m having a bad day, I can go volunteer and it will totally just change my mood. It’s helps a person’s overall well-being. I can’t imagine not volunteering.”

The feeling is mutual. On Friday, Prediger was one of two long-time Prince Albert and area healthcare volunteers on hand for a ceremonial tree-planting for National Volunteer Week.

Sonya Jahn, the health region’s volunteer services transition lead in the Prince Albert area, said they rely heavily on each of their 3,500 volunteers. The annual tree planting near the Prince Albert Tourism Centre is their way of recognizing that contribution.

“We are so fortunate to have so many wonderful volunteers who come from many different walks of life and different backgrounds who bring different skills and expertise and knowledge to our organization,” Jahn said. “(They) help benefit our patients, residents and clients in our healthcare facilities, so we are so grateful. They are just amazing.”

In Prince Albert, volunteers perform a variety of tasks that run from giving directions at the Victoria Hospital information booth to delivering Meals on Wheels to helping out in the Ronald McDonald Family Room.

Volunteers view it not only as a way to give back, but also as a way to stay healthy and active in the community. It’s also a way to keep Prince Albert’s medical facilities running as efficiently as possible.

“The staff is so busy,” said Kathy Horne, who spent 14 years volunteering at Prince Albert’s healthcare facilities, primarily the Victoria Hospital. “The volunteers can be there to assist family members or give directions or just be a good listener. (We) just try to help out where we can.”

“They provide those extras that staff just can’t get to,” Jahn added.

Despite having one of the largest volunteer operations in the province, Jahn said there’s always a need for more. While some volunteers, like Horne, say they’ll keep giving their time as long as they’re able, others like Prediger are limited by jobs and post-secondary education.

Even though Prediger will be moving to Regina in the fall, she still plans on making the odd visit to the Herb Bassett when she’s back in Prince Albert. After her time volunteering here, she can’t imagine not doing so.

“Definitely, when I’m back in P.A., I’ll be popping by the hospital and the Herb Bassett to see the regular patients, residents, and also to visit Sonya and the nurses,” she chuckled.

To volunteer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, call 306-765-6010.

In addition to the tree planting, volunteer teas will also be held in and around Prince Albert to thank volunteers for their service. The first is scheduled for April 8 at the Ches Leach Lounge in Prince Albert at 2 p.m. Volunteer teas will also be held in Leoville, Big River, Leask, Hafford, Canwood, Kinistino, Spiritwood, Birch Hills and Shellbrook.