Many people turn to music to cope during difficult times, and Barb Reimer is no exception.

Many people turn to music to cope during 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 humour, and his death was traumatic for Reimer’s family.

Supplied</p><p>Barb Reimer, with musician William Prince, is hoping to get back to volunteering at the venue in the new year.</p>

Supplied

Barb Reimer, with musician William Prince, is hoping to get back to volunteering at the venue in the new year.

Shortly after her father’s death, Reimer attended a concert at the West End Cultural Centre. She decided that volunteering at the famed venue, located at the corner of Ellice Avenue and Sherbrook Street, would be a good way to spend some of her free time away from her day job as a nurse at Grace Hospital.

"It was a really healing thing for me to get exposed to new artists I might not otherwise hear about," says Reimer, 66, who retired in 2010. "I really like the family atmosphere of the (volunteer) crews; the staff treat the volunteers so well and the venue’s commitment to involvement in the community really aligns with my beliefs."

Reimer, who grew up listening to Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin, volunteered at the venue at least twice a month prior to the pandemic. From taking tickets to selling merchandise, she helped out in a variety of different capacities. Most often, she could be found serving drinks at the bar.

When she wasn’t volunteering at the WECC before COVID-19, Reimer was attending concerts three or four times a week at venues throughout the city.

"When I first started volunteering at the West End, I learned to appreciate how much talent Winnipeg musicians have," she says. "That’s what really drew me in."

Scott Nolan, the Small Glories, Leaf Rapids and the D. Rangers are a few of Reimer’s favourites. Del Barber, Sweet Alibi and William Prince also make the list.

"I sort of threw myself into (music) when my dad died, and it continued to be a source of healing for me when my partner died eight years ago and when my mom died four years ago," Reimer says. "Music has been just a big comfort."

Like music venues around the world, the WECC was forced to cancel shows and shut its doors when the pandemic started. With the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, the WECC is open once again with a variety of concerts on the calendar for music fans who can show proof of vaccination.

Reimer, who enjoys travelling and typically spends six weeks each year visiting family in Mexico, kept busy during the pandemic going for daily walks in Assiniboine Park and knitting. She took up the latter pastime about a year before the pandemic started, and estimates that she has knit 150 toques since things first shut down in March 2020.

She is hoping to get back to volunteering at the venue in the new year.

"You’re made to feel appreciated and valued at the WECC, and I think that’s a really big thing," she says. "It stands out as one of the best places I’ve volunteered at."

The West End Cultural Centre is always looking for new volunteers. Anyone interested can email info@wecc.ca.

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.