LITTLE CURRENT – Volunteers, staff and board members at Manitoulin Northshore Victim Services gathered at the Little Current Rendezvous pavilion on September 15 to celebrate all their volunteers’ hard work, as well as to present the Volunteer of the Year Award to a very deserving volunteer member.
The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Richard Lathwell of Sheguiandah, a dedicated volunteer and team leader of many years who has gone above and beyond for the organization despite the challenges that have been posed by the global pandemic.
Executive director Tanya Wall said that the volunteer program is especially important to MNVS. “We could not provide the services that we do without the dedication and commitment of all our volunteers. From our front-line crisis responders and team leaders to our board members, all our volunteers are essential in ensuring timely and compassionate support to victims of crime and tragic circumstances. A special thank you to our volunteer of the year, Richard, to whom we are so grateful for your experience, support, and leadership.”
“I’ve been with MNVS since coming to the (Manitoulin) Island in late 2010,” Mr. Lathwell told The Expositor. “I have a background in this type of work having worked for many years with the Indigenous community in Toronto. For about 20 years I was a street outreach worker for the Native Men’s Residence then later became director of outreach services. So, I have had a long background in street outreach work and helping others.”
Mr. Lathwell explained, “it was not long after I came to the Island that I saw an advertisement in The Expositor from Victims Services asking the reader if they have ever volunteered and helped people who have been involved in such things as assaults or car accidents, that they could use more volunteers to help out. There was a list of about 10 things. I read the list and thought, ‘I’ve been involved in helping people in every one of these situations’.”
“I guess I do (enjoy volunteering), I certainly don’t get bored,” Mr. Lathwell quipped.
MNVS is only one of many organizations Mr. Lathwell has volunteered with, now and in the past. He is the president of the Ngwaagan Gamig Recovery Centre (Rainbow Lodge), having been with the organization for over eight years (the past six months as president), Noojmowin Teg Health Centre, 4elements Living Arts, a member of the board of director of Debajehmujig Storytellers, and many other organizations. He is also owner of Lobo Loco Alpacas.
Although she was unable to attend the MNVS annual gathering, board chair Patricia Giroux sent along her well wishes. “MNVS is a phenomenal program and we continued to provide assistance to victims of crime and tragic circumstance through the difficulties and challenges of COVID-19. All our volunteers, staff, their families, and significant others have responded to all calls for assistance. All are ready, willing, and able to assist. It is a real honour to be involved with such a positive group of individuals. Thank you for volunteering, you are most appreciated.”
Dinner was provided by Elliott’s Restaurant and many new members of the organization were able to meet one another face-to-face for the first time. All COVID-19 safety precautions were adhered to, including social-distancing, sanitization, and masks when not eating.
Manitoulin Northshore Victims Services is a community-based response program that provides immediate, short-term crisis intervention services to persons affected by crime or tragic circumstance. Victim Services works alongside police services and community partners with the assistance of volunteers to provide practical assistance, emotional support, resources, and referrals. MNVS is made possible by funding from the Ministry of the Attorney General.