Many people turn to music to cope with difficult times, and Barb Reimer is no exception.
Reimer’s father died suddenly in 1997 at the age of 73. He was a farmer near Plum Coulee, known for his work ethic and sense of humor, and his death was traumatic for Reimer’s family.
Shortly after his father’s death, Reimer attended a concert at the West End Cultural Center. She decided that volunteering at the famous site, located at the corner of Ellice Avenue and Sherbrooke Street, would be a good way to spend some of her free time away from her day job as a nurse in Grace Hospital.
“It was a real healing for me to be exposed to new artists that I might not have heard of otherwise,” says Reimer, 66, who retired in 2010. “I really like the ‘family atmosphere of the teams (volunteers); the staff treats the volunteers so well and the commitment of the place to get involved in the community really matches my beliefs. ”
Reimer, who grew up listening to Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin, volunteered at the site at least twice a month before the pandemic. From taking tickets to selling merchandise, she has helped in a variety of different capacities. Most often she was found serving drinks at the bar.
When not volunteering at the WECC before COVID-19, Reimer attended concerts three or four times a week at venues across town.
“When I first started volunteering in the West End, I came to appreciate the talent of Winnipeg musicians,” she says. “That’s what really attracted me.”
Scott Nolan, the Small Glories, Leaf Rapids and the D. Rangers are some of Reimer’s favorites. Del Barber, Sweet Alibi and William Prince are also on the list.
“I kind of got into (music) when my dad died, and it continued to be a source of healing for me when my partner passed away eight years ago and when my mom passed away. four years, ”says Reimer. “The music has been a great comfort.”
Like concert halls around the world, the WECC was forced to cancel shows and shut down when the pandemic began. With the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, the WECC is once again open with a variety of concerts on the schedule for music fans who can show proof of vaccination.
Reimer, who enjoys traveling and typically spends six weeks a year visiting family in Mexico, was busy during the pandemic with daily walks in Assiniboine Park and knitting. She started the latter hobby about a year before the start of the pandemic and estimates that she has knitted 150 toques since the closure of operations in March 2020.
She hopes to resume volunteering at the site in the New Year.
“You are made to feel appreciated and valued at WECC, and I think that’s a really great thing,” she said. “This is one of the best places I have volunteered.”
The West End Cultural Center is always looking for new volunteers. Anyone interested can send an email to [email protected]
If you know of a special volunteer, please contact [email protected]