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Delta Collaborates: Volunteer groups look for ways to work together

When Chief Constable Jim Cessford retired from the Delta Police in 2015 ending two decades at the helm and 40 years of service in law enforcement, many people wished him a relaxing retirement.

But since walking away from a paid job, Jim says he gets constant requests from community organizations to coach, volunteer or speak at events. So many requests, in fact, that he’s probably busier now than when he was working full-time.

“So if you ask me how’s retirement, who would know?” he says to laughter from the crowd at the 2016 Collaborate Delta volunteering summit at Delta’s Town and Country Inn.

The summit’s aim is to explore varying successful models of volunteer support to help increase community engagement.

Not that it took retirement for Jim to find out that volunteers play an integral role in maintaining community health and vibrancy.

He says the Delta Police don’t have the funding to comfort the families for every crime or accident, relying heavily on their Victims Services volunteers. Jim recalls an incident where a woman was so touched by the volunteers who consoled her in the aftermath of her husband passing away in a motorcycle accident that she wrote a story entitled “Angels at My Door.”

Indeed, their dedication means Victims Services volunteers have been known to stick with a family four years after an incident.

He tells another story about a man who kept volunteering for the police year after year. When he was still doing it at the age of 97, Jim asked why. He reportedly replied, “because it looks good on my resume.”

Jokes aside, Jim adds, “volunteers are not paid because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.”
Val Windsor, a co-chair of the Delta Seniors Planning Team and 45 year resident of Delta, says that people are increasingly seeing knowledge as having value and sharing that knowledge is as much philanthropy as donating money.

“In order to make Delta a great place to live, work and play we can’t just be spectators,” she says.
A few years ago the Delta Seniors Planning team conducted a walkability study in all three communities in Delta and then presented the results to Delta council, suggesting their ideas be incorporated into new building designs and community planning.

Throughout the process they found themselves working with other volunteer groups toward a common purpose.

“The lesson to be learned in this is we asked folks outside our organization to join in,” says Val, adding that sometimes others become inspired by volunteer work and will want to join in or collaborate.

And that’s something Collaborate Delta is working hard to promote, getting volunteer groups to work smarter and not harder, sharing resources instead of competing with one another.

Some volunteer groups overlap in areas of service and would benefit from working together, adds Val.

For more information about the volunteer summit visit collaboratedelta.org.

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