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VIDEO: Oak Bay volunteer organization ready to reopen in new space

Monterey Avenue building now home to volunteers, library, recreation centre

Staff returning to the office at Oak Bay Volunteer Services (OBVS) found their space a far cry from the site they left.

Formerly tucked in municipal hall, the volunteer organization moved to a newly renovated space below the Oak Bay branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library, adjacent to the Monterey Centre.

All three now call 1442 Monterey Ave. home and that kind of synergy is uplifting for executive director Renee Lorme-Gulbrandsen.

The OBVS team hasn’t worked together as a group since March 2020. Now back together in a shiny new space, the team hopes to welcome guests, with health and safety protocols in place, by mid-September. Like all similar agencies in the province, not moving to Step 4 in the reopening plan put some kinks in fall plans.

Building that path forward relies on the advice and information provided by the experts in provincial health, Lorme-Gulbrandsen emphasized. It’s worked so far, with no COVID-19 infections reported among the OBVS roster.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay volunteers keep critical services running

With an eye to flexibility, volunteers continue to provide the necessities they did from the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

They continue with grocery and pharmacy shopping and delivery as well as wellness check phone calls. Some things will expand – medical driving continues – but now recreation and shopping are available.

The organization had already returned to in-person visits, but they’re outside, so that too will need revisiting as the weather starts to turn.

READ ALSO: Hospice provides compassion in a time of COVID

Adjusting to the requirements is key, Lorme-Gulbrandsen said, as some things such as Wednesday meal delivery are a highlight of the week for an isolated individual and a crucial service.

“We do this for the impact. We do this to change lives,” she said.

They’ll also look at new opportunities created by the new space.

For example, a men’s group to get isolated individuals out and enjoying a game of billiards or time in the woodworking shop at the Monterey Recreation Centre is now an option.

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Renee Lorme-Gulbrandsen, executive director for Oak Bay Volunteer Services Society, is excited about the new office at 1442 Monterey Ave. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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