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North Simcoe Victim Services seeking 'empathetic' volunteers

'For a lot of people, if they can help one person it’s worth it,' says local agency's volunteer services coordinator
North Simcoe Victim Serviced 5-19-22
North Simcoe Victim Services volunteers were recognized for their exceptional care and dedication during a special recognition ceremony at OPP general headquarters last spring. From left are volunteer Celeste Heintzman Ryter, executive director Kim Kneeshaw, and volunteer Tracie Atkinson.

North Simcoe Victim Services is seeking volunteers who are willing to step up when tragedy strikes.

An information night for prospective volunteers will be held on Aug. 15 in the Tournament Room on the second floor of Rotary Place in west Orillia at 6:30 p.m.

The non-profit organization's volunteer services coordinator, Sherry Telford, says the service has taken a substantial hit when it comes to volunteers because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We do need a lot of volunteers,” she said, noting the organization currently has fewer volunteers than ever before.

Volunteers work alongside local police and emergency services personnel to support victims of crime or tragic circumstances.

“There is a satisfaction with helping and giving back to your community,” Telford said. “For a lot of people, if they can help one person it’s worth it.”

People must go through 60 hours of training before becoming crisis volunteers.

“We do very intense training,” Telford said. “It’s two nights a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. till 9:30 p.m. and it runs for eight to nine weeks.”

Executive director Kim Kneeshaw admits being a volunteer isn’t for everyone, stressing it takes an “incredibly non-judgmental” and “empathetic” person to do the job.

“We do ask that people are over 21,” she said. “They need to have had some life experience to be able to fulfill the role effectively.”

Other requirements include having a driver’s licence, being able to clear a police background check, and having access to a vehicle and cell phone.

Crisis volunteers will respond to sudden deaths, motor vehicle collisions, domestic violence situations, assaults, and other calls.

“Any type of crime or circumstance that a first-responder would get called out to,” Kneeshaw said. “We can assist in something more simple like a motor vehicle accident, right up to any type of death.”

Typically, volunteers who arrive on the scene to a call are appreciated by the victims they serve.

“People are usually appreciative to know that somebody was there for them,” Kneeshaw said. “In the circumstance of a death, we can’t bring people back. However, we can be there to give a little bit of comfort or to help them make lists or phone calls.”

Those planning on attending the information night are asked to RSVP by emailing [email protected].

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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