The wife takes a turn - Call in the volunteers


By Christine Wadell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Wars are fought on the battle front, but they are won at home. The volunteers at home supported every battle or war to the point that without them, all would have been lost.

US Civil War had the sanitation commission that saved thousands of lives. During WWI there was the Red Cross knitting. If you were a beginner or a child, then it was simple scarves, if you were experienced, you knitted socks and balaclavas.

WWII saw a repeat performance by thousands of volunteers and their knitting needles. War bonds or Victory Bonds raised millions of dollars, sometimes pennies at a time.

The people of Britain tore up the rose beds to plant gardens and saved every scrap of food to fatten a hog to stave off malnutrition.

At the evacuation of Dunkirk, it didn’t matter the size of your vessel or your experience level, you answered the call, knowing the risks. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers were saved by people sailing little boats. During Neepawa’s July 1 flood, volunteers drove trucks, brought food and dry socks, filled and loaded sandbags.

Our latest war or battle is COVID-19, a global pandemic, an epic battle at home and abroad.

In this battle, it seems our soldiers, our enlisted paid workers, were on their own. It wasn’t because volunteers weren’t willing and able, it’s because they were shunted out of the way. Volunteers were swept aside in a tidal wave of bureaucratic stupidity. Instead of being able to help the health care soldiers, and perhaps save lives, the soldiers were left to fight on their own and many lives may have been uneccesarily lost.

Yes, making masks, doing our individual bit by social distancing, reducing contact, being kind, giving up birthdays and “normal” family celebrations of life and remembrances of passed loved ones, that all helped, perhaps.

But that core of VOLUNTEERS, who are attached to every personal care home and hospital I have been in, were told to STAY OUT!

This core, or should it be Corps, in normal times took the weight off the enlisted paid  staff, the foot soldiers.

Former federal cabinet minister Shelly Glover, with her experience and commanding presence, now has the ear of the main stream media. She has given those volunteers who were denied the opportunity to assist a voice. The story of being the “lock downs/denial of entry to assist” is well known. Many volunteers cried out,“Put me through the screening process. I’ll help push wheel chairs, bring a cup of water, hold a hand, pick up that which is out of reach, bring a comforting word.” Vulnerable, sick and dying people don’t need more rules, they need compassion.

Our volunteers are not ignorant of the requirements and responsibilities of these times.

Why oh, why did we not use our volunteers, that precious resource that has won battles for us for centuries? Volunteers are sung as heroes in “normal” times. They have the experience and often have time. Why were they punted in this horrible war?

The area where the battle losses have been the greatest, where the victims of C-19 were at the greatest risk, trapped and unable to make their own decisions or understand the cause of the disruption in their lives was kept almost void of volunteers.

That is the area where we left the “enlisted” to struggle shorthanded, as families stood at a distance and watched the enfeebled and elderly suffer. That is where we denied the “home-front” their rightful place in our latest war.

May people rally around Shelly Glover and every other volunteer in our communities to ensure this mistake not only stops happening, but never happens again.