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Recognizing those to whom giving back comes naturally

When asked why he decided to start volunteering with Community Care Concepts, Jack Tabbert’s response is to the point.

Volunteer Jack Tabbert and coordinator Karla Frey will be attending Community Care Concepts’ volunteer appreciation luncheon later this month.[will sloan / the observer]
Volunteer Jack Tabbert and coordinator Karla Frey will be attending Community Care Concepts’ volunteer appreciation luncheon later this month. [will sloan / the observer]
“Something to do,” he laughed.

Of course, Tabbert no doubt had altruistic motivations as well, but since retiring in 1999 from his Complete Carpet Care business, the 75-year-old Woolwich resident has come to know a thing or two about life after work. Tabbert joined with Community Care Concepts in 2009 as a driver, transporting the elderly or ailing to appointments. Over the past four years, his work as a volunteer has led to lasting relations with his clients.

“I like meeting people,” said Tabbert. “Now I’ve met most of my clients, but initially, the first two or three years, it was very interesting because I was meeting people that I hadn’t seen for years.”

Sometimes, meeting people on the job leads to unexpected connections.

“Two weeks ago, I took one of my former classmates from public school for a ride, and I hadn’t seen her in 65 years,” Tabbert said.

“Seventy years ago, my dad was the designated driver for the Mennonite community in Wallenstein. It was a horse-and-buggy community, and when they needed somebody to take them to the hospital, they got my dad. What goes around comes around – now I am the designated driver for the children and grandchildren of our neighbours up on the farms.”

Community Care Concepts offers assisted transportation, visiting, meals on wheels, maintenance, homemaking, and other services for seniors and those with special needs in the community. With National Volunteer Week coming this month (April 21-27, to be exact), this volunteer-based non-profit will be holding their annual volunteer appreciation luncheon a few days early (April 19). This event, at the Wellesley Community Centre, is an opportunity for the organization to show gratitude to those who help.

“Most of the people that I find volunteering have that kind of heart – to want to get to know people and give back to the community,” said Karla Frey, care and volunteer coordinator. “All their souls are the same that way – they’re givers, and have received, and want people to benefit from that.”

At least one day a week, and sometimes as many as four, Tabbert will drive his clients to their appointments (often at hospitals), and Community Care Concepts offers trips both long and short, as far as Hamilton and Toronto.

Let’s say someone is unsold on why they should volunteer. Can Tabbert sell us on the prospect? “It’s built into you,” he responded, “There’s a need that’s, ‘I have to get out and do a little volunteerism.’ It’s a calling, almost.”

Added Frey, “With Meals on Wheels, sometimes [the volunteer] is the only contact that individual might have for two or three days.”

While many of Community Care Concepts’ volunteers are retired, the organization welcomes people of all ages, and Tabbert emphasizes the importance of young recruits.

“I’m getting to the age where, if somebody fell, I would have problems getting that person up and back into my car,” said Tabbert. “So it’s always a younger generation that we require for volunteers. There are a lot of us in our seventies and eighties still volunteering.”

So: keeping occupied during retirement is certainly a noble goal, but what else motivates Tabbert? Why has he really spent four of his golden years behind the wheel and on the go, often on short notice?

“When I get home after a run, especially after the first time I take a client, I have a feeling of real satisfaction that I’ve performed a service to this person who might not otherwise have been able to get to the appointment.”


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