“Chefing” from home for volunteers


Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

Organizers of this year’s Volunteer Appreciation event have found a unique way to celebrate the occasion while respecting provincial COVID-19 health and safety directives: a fully supplied virtual cooking class.

The invitation-only, digital event take places Feb. 20 with an expected 99 invitees. Sponsored by the CANEX Volunteers’ Recognition Program, the evening cooking class is a fun way to recognize volunteers who donate their time to the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC), Personnel Support Programs (PSP), and the CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum.

Festivities will kick off with opening remarks from Capt(N) Sam Sader, Base Commander, and Sarah Johnson, CANEX Store Manager, followed by the virtual cooking class led by Chef Dan Hayes of The London Chef. Chef Hayes is co-host of the cable television cooking show Moosemeat and Marmalade.

“Interest and response has been great for this event with over 90 per cent of the participants already confirming their participation over a week ahead of the event,” says Christine Farrington, event organizer. “We have a good cross-section of volunteers from across the base being honoured and they have been telling us they really like this unique new way of saying thanks.”

Ingredients to make Chicken Tagine will be given to each volunteer the day of the event, either by picking them up at a set location or direct to their door via a refrigerated delivery truck.

Attendees will then cook Chicken Tagine through Chef Hayes’ step-by-step instructions.

Who are these volunteers?

Sixty-four MFRC volunteers are being recognized for their approximately 2,100 hours of time in 2019 and 2020.

While most in-person events over the past year have been cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic, the MFRC has relied almost entirely on virtual volunteering.

“Because many military families found themselves isolated or otherwise adversely affected by the pandemic it was crucial for us to affirm to our community that the MFRC and its volunteers are here to help,” said Ekaterina Gregory, Esquimalt MFRC Community Integration Coordinator. “MFRC volunteers stayed in touch, engaged families in contests, games, and other online events as we wanted to tell our families: You are not alone, and we are thinking of you.”

Over 75 PSP volunteers are also being honoured for approximately 1,500 hours of volunteering over the past two years for sports events such as the Navy Run and regional and local sports competitions held at the base over the past two years, participation in base clubs, and special interest activities. 

Also 19 volunteers from the base museum are being recognized for a combined 3,188 hours of volunteer work before the museum closed its doors last spring due to the pandemic. Their work included acting as tour guides, greeters at the welcome centre, and archival assistants and researchers.


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