Wellness Collaborative exemplifies neighbors helping neighbors

By Barbara Schneider, bschneider@bigcanoenews.com

Volunteers are the life blood of most organizations; Big Canoe’s Wellness Collaborative is no exception.
“It’s often difficult for people in need to ask for help,” Wellness Collaborative President Rhonda Stock told the volunteers gathered at The Clubhouse at Lake Sconti for the second quarterly volunteer forum on June 3. “We are seeking ways to break down the barriers and trying to fill in the blanks by providing—and refining or expanding—the range of services people in our community need.”
The forum provides an opportunity for volunteers to share experiences, ask questions and compare notes.

Going places with BC Rides

Barbara Henry loves to drive. It just felt natural, she told the volunteers, to participate in the BC Rides program. “This one gives me a lot of satisfaction. Everyone has been so thankful, so sweet.”

Barbara Henry became a volunteer for the Wellness Collaborative because she believes in neighbors helping neighbors. (Photo by Rhonda Stock)

Barbara Henry became a volunteer for the Wellness Collaborative because she believes in neighbors helping neighbors. (Photo by Rhonda Stock)

A Big Canoe resident for three years, Henry moved here from San Diego to be closer to family. She became
a volunteer, “because the concept of neighbors helping neighbors is so important,” she says. “Helping one another out” strengthens a community.
She began driving for BC Rides in December 2015. “Every ride is a little bit different. It can be a trip to a doctor, the fitness center or to the grocery store. I’ve driven someone down to Atlanta and have even picked up a resident from the hospital in Cumming after outpatient surgery.”
Henry invites residents who may need assistance but are reluctant to ask “to try one of our services and see for yourself. The more people who take advantage of the services the stronger the Wellness Collaborative will become.”
For anyone considering getting involved with the collaborative, she has this bit of advice: “Volunteers get satisfaction out of helping people. Think about the services we offer. If any of the three sounds appealing, take the training and try it.”

Summing up her experience with the Wellness Collaborative, she said, “Volunteering in BC Rides pays it forward for me.”

BC Meals for a bon appétit

Mimi Zentgraf, a Big Canoe resident since 2006, has always given her time and talents for worthy causes, she told Smoke Signals in a telephone interview. Her knitting group created 300 soft knit caps for premature babies. She had previously chaired a meals program in New Jersey.
Giving her time and offering support to others is ingrained in her outlook on life.
“I had friends already involved in wellness activities throughout the community. Helping out our neighbors just seems to be part of the fabric of life in Big Canoe.”
After hearing Rhonda Stock speak about the Big Canoe
Wellness Collaborative, Mimi volunteered for the BC Meals program and began delivering food to homebound residents in the community. She is warmed by the appreciation
of those she has cooked for and treasures their letters of thanks.
Her husband Chuck is a strong supporter of the BC Meals program. “My husband loves it when I fix meals for the Wellness Collaborative,” Zentgraf says. “He knows his meal at home will be a little more special that night.”
Asked what she would tell those interested in participating with the Wellness Collaborative, she said, “If you put your hand up and volunteer your life is changed in a positive way forever.”

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