Community Papers

Penticton volunteer of the week: Angels with WINGS

Volunteers Graham Caughlin and Judy Jefferies help sort and clean clothes at the South Okanagan Women In Need thrift store WINGS in Penticton on Main Street. - Kristi Patton/Western News
Volunteers Graham Caughlin and Judy Jefferies help sort and clean clothes at the South Okanagan Women In Need thrift store WINGS in Penticton on Main Street.
— image credit: Kristi Patton/Western News

Faced with the challenges of being a single parent, Judy Jefferies knows all too well what a little help means.

It was why, eight years ago, she decided to do what she could to give back to the community the way it did for her.

“I was a single parent when I moved here and I received a lot of help. This is just my way of giving back because I don’t have the means to do it financially,” said Jefferies, who volunteers at WINGS Thrift Store. “There is quite a lot of people in need in this city and many don’t realize it because there is a stigma.”

Another volunteer sorting clothing holds up a toddler’s frilly pink and black dress pulled out of a container of clothes that were dropped off at WINGS. Smiles spread like wildfire around the room.

“Just knowing that some little girl is going to be so happy with that, it makes our day. It puts big smiles on our faces too,” said Jefferies, who also volunteers at the Care Closet, Meals on Wheels and the Breakfast Learning Club.

Net proceeds from WINGS (Women in Need Gaining Strength) sales support programs and services for women and children who are at risk or have experienced abuse and violence. They provide starting over packages to women and children fleeing abuse and are given all they need to set up new households. Gently used items are accepted by the store for sale including clothing, shoes, accessories and housewares. With limited space, they ask people wanting to donate items to call for details on how to do so at 250-770-9799.

Jefferies said having younger volunteers such as Graham Caughlin, who was helping out on Thursday at WINGS, is a great assistance for those who have been there for years.

“The enthusiasm they bring is great. I admire what they are doing here and having their help is awesome because sometimes we get a lot of heavier stuff or have to take things up and down stairs and some of us have mobility issues,” said Jefferies.

Caughlin was born and raised in Penticton and said volunteering his time at SOWINS was where he felt it would be most meaningful. Working at Nature’s Fare allows him the freedom to spend a few hours every Thursday at WINGS.

Nature’s Fare frees up their employees to do community service during regular work hours while still getting paid.

Caughlin said Nature’s Fare is one of the first small businesses in Canada to earn the Certified B distinction, which requires them to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance.

SOWINS is currently seeking volunteers for all aspects of their organization. At WINGS they are looking for volunteers capable of moving and lifting items. Retail experience is an asset, but not necessary.

Other positions they are looking to fill in other aspects of the non-profit are assistance with front desk reception which includes answering phones, light computer work, data entry and assistance with seasonal events. The SOWINS information booth at the Downtown Community Market needs people to pitch in as well as help market events throughout the year. This may include selling items and sharing information to the public about programs and services.

SOWINS is also looking for a driver to help take clients to and from appointments and motivated volunteers to assist with their Healing Mondays program.

This includes artists, energy healers, yoga instructors, painting, meditation and more. Some positions at SOWINS require a criminal record review program check through the Ministry of Justice.

Shift times vary for all positions. For more information contact volcoord@sowins.com.

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