NORTHERN VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C. – The Canadian Red Cross is asking North Island residents to consider volunteering with the organization as their New Year’s resolution.

Opportunities are available in Courtenay, Campbell River, Powell River, Port Hardy and Port Alice.

Canadian Red Cross volunteer engagement coordinator Melissa DeMeda said volunteering with the Red Cross is an enriching experience.

“I think volunteering is a great way to build your own personal skills,” she said. “Besides the fact that it is an awesome way to really impact your local community, I think you can gain a lot from it personally (by) meeting new people, feeling more connected to your community, learning new skills and keeping other skills sharp.”

Volunteers have the opportunity to help neighbours recover from disasters ranging from house fires, to floods, and even wildfires.

As well, people can donate walkers, wheelchairs, bath benches and other health equipment to residents of Central and Northern Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, who recovering from illness or surgery, or spending their final days of life at home.

The organization’s Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP) helps provide health equipment to individuals dealing with illness or injury.

“It’s more of an administrative, client-facing role, one where you can work really closely with your community members, and our depots rely on volunteers,” DeMeda said. “We’re always looking for people in both programs to expand our services and be more active in the community.”

Photo courtesy Canadian Red Cross

The Red Cross’s emergency management program responds to disasters locally, provincially, and nationally, in some instances.

“Locally, people can help out with smaller emergencies such as apartment fires or local floods, or people who are affected by the windstorm… Red Cross could be involved in that,” DeMeda said.

Red Cross volunteers connects those have been evacuated or affected by a disaster with resources to help them get back on their feet, she explained.

DeMeda said the Canadian Red Cross offers a lot of valuable training to its volunteers, which she notes “looks good on a resume.”

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast can call 1-844-818-2155, email volunteerbc@redcross.ca, or sign up online on the Canadian Red Cross’s website.

A list of volunteer opportunities are also available online.