She needs to be needed

Together We are Possibility: The United Way fundraising campaign for 2015

For much of her working career, Melanie worked as a firefighter in the Cowichan Valley. If it were up to her, she would have never have left. She loved helping people, she loved the uniform; it was her identity for nearly 20 years. When she suffered a torn meniscus on the job, and even when the pain got worse and worse, she was determined to stick it out. It was only when she realized that her injury might put her colleagues or the public in danger that she agreed to retire.

After an arduous knee replacement surgery, Melanie found herself at the Red Cross HELP Depot in Duncan holding a lengthy list of medical equipment her doctor had prescribed for her recovery. Although she’d had a long career as a first responder, she had no experience in post-operative care and had never heard of the free loan program. Suddenly retired and short on funds, she was impressed that such an program charged nothing for the service.

In her own words, Melanie fits the classic profile of a first responder; she needs to be needed. Never much for housekeeping, as soon as she was walking again, she decided to join the volunteer team at the Duncan HELP Office.

As the majority of HELP volunteers are seniors, they always bring an abundance of life and work experience to the offices they work in. Melanie’s past however, gives her a unique insight into the experiences of the clients she’s serving. No matter the ailment or injury, Melanie has seen it at some point in her job, often right after it happened. Match that with a gregarious personality and the empathy that comes with seeing a lot more than most, Melanie is a huge asset to the Duncan HELP service. By her own admission, her life as a volunteer is not quite as fast-paced as her last job, but it’s just as rewarding. Anyway, Melanie herself is a little slower these days.

United Way Cowichan funds over 20 local programs, such as the Red Cross Health Equipment Loan Program. Many of these programs are facilitated by volunteers, just like Melanie.

Please consider a donation to the United Way Cowichan campaign. Please call our office, 250-748-1312 or visit our website to donate online (

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