Denese Ferris, left, waits for a pour as Terri Wolhfarth, volunteer coordinator at Eden Gardens, fills cups and hands out treats at the care facility’s bistro. More volunteers are needed to open the bistro more often. TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/News Bulletin

Denese Ferris, left, waits for a pour as Terri Wolhfarth, volunteer coordinator at Eden Gardens, fills cups and hands out treats at the care facility’s bistro. More volunteers are needed to open the bistro more often. TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/News Bulletin

Eden Gardens looks to boost its array of volunteers

Dementia care facility marks its first year open

Volunteering fills the soul of Nanaimo’s Terri Wohlfarth.

“I get as much from it as [residents] do, I am sure, if not more,” she said, chuckling.

Wohlfarth, 69, is sitting at one of the checked tables at Nanaimo’s Eden Garden’s bistro, where she had been getting ready to slice up her homemade rhubarb cake. Three mornings a week, residents can be brought to the bistro to meet and enjoy a coffee and treat.

“We really need people in here so that we can keep it open, so that we can bring [residents] because they love coming here,” she said.

The 130-bed and $34-million Northfield Road facility, a care home for seniors with dementia, opened a year ago on Saturday and as the staff and board celebrate its first year, they‘re also searching for more volunteers.

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“I wouldn’t say it’s a shortage, but we would love to have more [volunteers],” said programs manager Carolina Ponsford, who told the News Bulletin, for example, the facility would like to open the bistro daily. “The more volunteers, the better quality of life for the residents because… the staff is full hands, so they need that one-on-one, they need more opportunities to socialize.”

Volunteers are important to make Eden Gardens a different place and make residents feel like they are actually living a life, said Denise Wittkofski, board member.

“There’s a lot of one-on-one time … or take them out into the bistro or take them out into the gardens and that’s what the whole Eden’s philosophy is, is that we don’t just let people sit in their rooms. We bring them out into activities,” she said.

Wohlfarth previously worked and volunteered in care facilities and missed it after she retired, she said. She started at Eden Gardens in October and is now one of 65 volunteers.

She shows new volunteers the ropes and loves to decorate, so if visitors see Eden Gardens outfitted for the holidays, her hands were likely behind it.

“It makes my heart feel good. It fills my soul is what it does,” said Wohlfarth of volunteering — and she knows she makes residents happy. “You just know you make a difference because they light up when you come.”

For more information about volunteering, call 250-760-2639 or e-mail carolina.ponsford@edengardens.ca.



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