The Happy Gang 2

The Happy Gang 2

Appreciating Stettler’s volunteers

The Stettler Hospital and Care Centre celebrated Volunteer Week with a free breakfast for the area volunteers on Tuesday, April 8.

The Stettler Hospital and Care Centre celebrated Volunteer Week with a free breakfast for the area volunteers on Tuesday, April 8.

The breakfast, held at the Stettler Legion, was cooked up by hospital staff and funded by the hospital and Volunteer Alberta, according to Gail Benjamin, the coordinator of volunteer resources at the hospital.

Though the hospital was the host, the breakfast was for more than just those volunteers who make an impact at the health care facilities. Of the roughly 75 volunteers who came to the hall to enjoy a free breakfast of bacon, eggs and pancakes, many spend their time serving with community organizations such as Superfluity, the Rotary Club, Stettler Adult Therapy and Pet Therapy.

One volunteer present at the breakfast was Kat Checkel, who helps run the Better Choices, Better Health program with Debbie van Landen.

The program helps people suffering from chronic health issues – as diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and pain and fatigue syndromes, to name a few – learn to cope with their illness and still live a full life. The program teaches people how to communicate with their health care providers, manage pain, fatigue and medication, eat healthily, factor fi tness into the daily routine and handle the roller-coaster ride of emotions that comes with chronic illness.

“You get to meet other people and you don’t feel so isolated anymore,” Checkel said of the program. She originally took part in the program as a client, but was so impacted by it that she stepped up to help lead it.

“It opened so many doors,” she added. “It’s quite an amazing course.”

Checkel, who calls herself a very private person, said that the course made such an impact on her that she stepped up despite her love for privacy. The love of volunteering, and the effect it had on her and on those with whom she worked, made her reach out to other volunteer programs to see where she could help.

And one thing she decided to do was cut off her hair.

“It was a New Year’s resolution,” she explained. The long, shorn locks were donated to go towards making wigs for those afflicted by cancer.

The Happy Gang 2, a singing group, was also taking advantage of the free breakfast and chance to socialize with fellow volunteers. The eight-person group, made of four men and four women, sing every Wednesday at the Stettler hospital and at Points West, alternating week to week.

The group brings songbooks with them so the residents at the two locations can sing along, books that have the songs written in large script so it can be easy to read by anyone.

“They are one of the reasons we hold this breakfast,” Benjamin said, praising the group for the uplifting effect they have on residents at both the hospital and at PointsWest.

Door prizes were drawn at the end of the breakfast, with the prizes being donated by Sobeys, the hospital gift shop and the Stettler Information Referral Centre.

“Every year the hospital, along with the Stettler Information Referral Centre, hosts a volunteer appreciation event (during National Volunteer Week),” Benjamin explained. “The hospital prepares the food” so the volunteers can take the morning off from volunteering.