The West Shore Local Hero Awards are back! You can find this year’s special feature in the March 16 edition of the Goldstream Gazette or online under e-editions. Stay tuned for more on each of this year’s honourees, you will also be able to read their stories online at goldstreamgazette.com/tag/local-hero-awards.
Kurt Hollstein moved from Saskatchewan to the West Shore five years ago and the 95-year-old Langford resident wasted no time getting involved in the community. When he’s not maintaining the flower beds, fish ponds, and helping out around his independent living facility, Hollstein spends his time volunteering at the Goldstream Food Bank and as a part of the local legion’s poppy campaign.
Last year alone he clocked 750 hours of volunteer time. That’s down a bit, he said, from his usual 1,000 hours because of the changes brought by the pandemic.
“I’m over at the food bank for three to four hours every Saturday morning, working like a beaver there,” Hollstein said.
He gets there before the regular shift to help sort the donation boxes that come from Walmart.
Growing up during the Great Depression, Hollstein said a food bank would have been instrumental in helping his family. When he was in his early teens, his father became terminally ill, and Hollstein had to drop out of school and start working to support his family. Even then, the drought on the Prairies combined with the depression meant they were severely short on food. That experience is a key part of his drive to give back through working at the food bank.
“Food banks play a very, very important part in the social life of everybody. I can foresee with the extreme rise in groceries and prices, we’ll be playing a bigger part than ever before,” Hollstein said.
“I don’t want to see anybody in a country like ours go hungry.”
Hollstein’s history of volunteering didn’t start with his move to Vancouver Island. Back in Saskatchewan, he played many roles in the community, serving as president and board member at the Regina Lutheran Nursing Home, on the board of directors at the Regina Housing Authority, delivering thousands of meals-on-wheels and driving nursing home patients to the hairdresser and out to pub nights.
For the past four years, Hollstein has been volunteering his time with the Royal Canadian Legion’s annual poppy campaign. Though he wanted to enlist in the Second World War, he was too young, and this is his way of giving back and serving his country.
“They’re forever looking for volunteers. (They) never get enough for the poppy campaign. There’s a lot of shifts that are not covered,” Hollstein said.
Part of the reason he agreed to be profiled as part of this year’s Local Heroes Awards was to encourage others to give back.
“It’s a challenge to any senior that thinks they’re too old to do anything in the community,” Hollstein said.
When asked if he had a message to others when it comes to volunteering, he replied by quoting the first verse of British-American poet Edgar Guest’s Compensation, a line from which includes “I’d like to think when life is done, that I had filled a needed post.”
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