Our People, Our Peninsula: Volunteering with UNITI ‘an important part of my life’

Marie Sabine was instrumental in getting the Chorus apartments built

Marie Sabine says volunteering for UNITI energizes her, allows her to learn new skills and contribute to her community in a meaningful way. (Contributed photo)

Marie Sabine says volunteering for UNITI energizes her, allows her to learn new skills and contribute to her community in a meaningful way. (Contributed photo)

Volunteers are the backbone of a community. In the May 19 edition of the Peace Arch News, we published our second annual Our People, Our Peninsula section, in which we profiled 11 individuals whose volunteer efforts help shape White Rock-South Surrey into the strong and vibrant community we call home. Below is the profile of one such volunteer.

Marie Sabine goes above and beyond to support people with disabilities in living their best lives.

She has been a part of UNITI for years as a parent and board member. She was a instrumental in getting the award-winning Chorus apartments built, where her daughter Tracie lives. UNITI is a leader in the community because of people like Marie.

Q: How long have you been a volunteer with UNITI and why did you choose them specifically?

I began volunteering with UNITI 16 years ago. My daughter has an intellectual disability and attended programs offered by Semiahmoo House Society. She enjoyed the programs, which offered social connections as well as opportunities to learn new skills and have a good time.

Q: How has volunteering for PAHF benefited you as a person?

As I was working full-time, most of my volunteering was helping at fundraising events. These events were great, as I got to meet many people living in our community who supported the work done by Semiahmoo House Society. When I retired, I began volunteering more at Semiahmoo House Society, and learning more about UNITI and its roles in the community.

I became aware of a building project that Peninsula Estates Housing Society was planning; an apartment building in South Surrey that would have 71 apartments, with 20 apartments specifically for people with intellectual disabilities. My daughter, who wanted to live independently, was thrilled. She moved into her new home when the Chorus building was completed in 2016. Living independently, in a supportive environment, has been a positive life-changing event for both my daughter and her family.

Q: Why is it important to you to volunteer your time?

It is very rewarding and an important part of my life. Because of my involvement in helping to make Chorus Apartments a reality, I have become involved in other local volunteer opportunities related to the creation of inclusive, affordable, accessible housing, especially in the White Rock/South Surrey area.

Q: What advice do you have for people who are thinking about becoming a volunteer for the first time?

If you are thinking about becoming a volunteer for the first time, I recommend you look into local not-for-profit organizations. Choose an organization that provides services for something dear to your heart. Ask your friends and family about volunteer opportunities they may know about. It is a great way to meet like-minded people. I love volunteering; it energizes me; I learn new skills and feel I am contributing to my community in a meaningful way.

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