If you go into the Lake Cowichan Community Services building, located at 121 Point Ideal Road, chances are you will see Marlyn Charney sitting behind the reception desk. Charney has been a volunteer with Community Services for the past eight years, and loves everything about it. So much so, that she has put in double duty by sitting on the board of directors for the past seven years.
Charney retired with her husband to Lake Cowichan 16 years ago and at that time began working part-time, and on call, at the Lake Cowichan branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library. She worked for the library for about five years, but having a job began to interfere with her ability to travel and spend time with her grandchildren. “So I said, ‘No, you know what? This is done,’ and I looked around for a place to volunteer. And I really liked Community Services, and the people, (and) the fit was good. I’ve been volunteering ever since.”
Charney is the on the front line helping to connect those who are in need with the many programs and services the organization has to offer. “I answer the phone, I photocopy, I fax—mostly for employment—and we have Red Cross so if people come in and they need equipment, I take them to the Red Cross room and get them set up with the equipment they need.” She answers the transit line and gives passengers information about bus schedules and costs to travel between Lake Cowichan, Youbou, and Honeymoon Bay. “We keep a scrap book so I go through the local papers, the Duncan papers and the Gazette and clip anything that’s relevant to Community Services or the staff.”
Charney has nothing but good things to say about the people she works with. “The people that work there really have the communities interests at heart. That’s their priority, is to help in the community. They genuinely care and they go above and beyond their job descriptions. All of them. They cover for each other, they don’t say ‘well that’s not in my job description.’ If I’m volunteering and I have a problem that I can’t solve I can ask anybody there. They’re very appreciative of all their volunteers, and their volunteers stay a long time.”
When asked what she likes about sitting on the board, Charney said, “Personally, for me, it gives me a really good overview of what’s happening in the community. It’s all very confidential and everything and boy do they respect that. That is huge for volunteering and being on the board. I would say we all 100 per cent agree that we are all very supportive of Carol Blatchford, the director, and she doesn’t ask much of us. But if she does we support her.” She says that because it’s a non-profit society there has to be a board and accountability, but it’s very much a family environment to work in.
Charney has made lots of close friends through volunteering at Community Services. Many of them spend time together outside of work. “What’s not to like? It’s a community within a community,” she says.
Charney has four grandchildren whom she says love to come to Lake Cowichan and play on her property. She also tries to get to Coquitlam to visit them as much as possible. Her and her husband, Dave, take off in their camper twice a year. They travel south to escape from the rainy west coast winters. Being a volunteer helps to accommodate this as she is not obligated to a strict schedule.
Charney also helps out with the local Christmas hamper and is a regular volunteer for the Great Lake Walk. She was recently named volunteer of the week by Community Services for the week of March 29.