Finding value in SOS

Guest Blog by Dr. Jennifer Mullett, SOS Board Chair

In my career as a Community Psychologist, I had the opportunity to observe and be part of creative, collaborative, community initiatives in small towns in British Columbia and around the world, for example Brazil, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago and Finland.  In Victoria, I worked with many non-profits that were dedicated to an inclusive community. The passion and the kindness with which staff and volunteers did this was humbling.

I fell in love with the idea of community, true community, where there is a commitment to the “other” and a sense of social justice.  Basically, it is an extension of what most of us have experienced in our neighbourhoods: looking out for the elderly person down the street, mentoring a youth in using tools, offering to babysit or walk a dog to relieve the stress of daily living, and making meals for those not well or grieving.

When I moved to Qualicum Beach in 2009, I was invited to be part of a small group that was attempting to create greater collaboration and cohesion in Qualicum in order to create a healthy community.  This led to an invitation to volunteer as a Board member for SOS.

My experiences in other countries made it easy for me to recognize the value of SOS and in particular the potential of its scope and scale.  It encapsulates everything that I saw as valuable in other countries starting with the resolute purpose of making life better for those who need some support.  When your passion and your work match the result is magic.

At the time I was also a committee member for the Vancouver Foundation, an organization founded by one woman in 1943 who had saved $1,000 from her secretarial job and had a vision to help the homeless women of Vancouver break the circle of poverty.  She impressed philanthropists who joined her to expand her vision.  The Vancouver Foundation has since distributed over a billion dollars to charities and community projects in British Columbia.

For me, the fact that SOS was started by 3 women who saw a need, and, with a contribution of $25 each, created, over fifty years ago, a now thriving organization paralleled the origins of the Vancouver Foundation.  It is a unique combination of optimism and dedication to community.  The histories and the legacies of these two organizations are inspiring. It reminds me of the famous Margaret Mead quote: “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Other agencies in town who are also engaged in helping others, will agree with me that the best part of working in a community organization is being surrounded by staff and volunteers who are such a positive force in our community and who each day bring a sense of fun, and yet great humanity to their work.  I continue to learn so much from them.

Dr. Jennifer Mullett
SOS Board Chair