Saanich Volunteer Services Society

Board of Directors & Volunteer Advisory Council

Board of Directors


Nicole Hamilton - President

Nicole has been a Director on the Board since 2014. As a resident of Saanich, she is excited to give back to her community through work with the Saanich Volunteer Services Society. She was born and raised in Courtenay, B.C. and initially came to Saanich in 2001 to attend the University of Victoria where she obtained her Bachelor of Commerce degree.
She later pursued a law degree at the University of Alberta but could not resist returning to this community to start her career and resume the west coast lifestyle. Nicole is a lawyer practicing in the areas of general civil litigation, family law and administrative law. In her spare time, she enjoys running, traveling and photography.


Peter Argast - Vice President

Peter was born and raised on Vancouver Island. He moved out east to attend university in Ottawa, where he obtained a degree in Political Science. After traveling and a stint living in Quebec, Peter returned to the west coast. He completed a Masters' of Public Administration in 2014 and currently works for the Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia.
As a public policy professional, Peter has experience in the public sector at the federal, provincial and non-profit levels. He joined the board of directors of Saanich Volunteer Services in 2016. Peter is passionate about his west coast home and giving back to his community. When not exploring the back roads and hills of the Island as an avid cyclist and hiker, Peter can be found in the kitchen cooking up a storm or planning his next adventure.


Nathan Zhang CPA, CGA – Board Treasurer

Nathan is a Chartered Professional Accountant who works as a Senior Financial Officer with the BC Ministry of Finance in Victoria. He holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Victoria, as well as a Financial Management Certificate from the Government of BC. Nathan brings extensive volunteer experience from his roles as treasurer on a strata board, chief accountant for the LifeRing Secular Recovery Society Canada and patient support at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. In addition, he is currently also a board member with the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival Association.
In his spare time, Nathan enjoys running and hiking, and he has a passion for travelling and exploring new cultures.


Nansi Blenkiron

Nansi worked as a Social Worker with older adults in Victoria for the past 12 years. She has always been involved with community support, beginning in Vancouver working with children and families. She moved to Victoria in 1989 and since moving, has been involved with Community Policing, Youth Employment and Disaster Response.
She continues to stay involved with her community, believing we make the community we want to live in.


Helene Driscoll

Helene has a Bachelor of Arts in Special Populations (Therapeutic Recreation) from the University of Alberta and a Masters' Degree in Leadership and Training from Royal Roads University. Her professional experience includes over 35 years working with older adults as a Recreation Therapist and, more recently, as Therapy Coordinator for Island Health, Residential Care and Geriatrics South Island.
Helene retired in 2011, briefly came out of retirement in 2015 from June to September and served as the Better at Home Coordinator at the Broadmead Care Society. She is passionate about services for seniors that help them remain at home. Her recent volunteer experience includes Victoria Grandmothers for Africa and, in September 2016, she completed their 50 km cycle fundraiser. Besides cycling, Helene's interests include quilting, reading, hiking and traveling with her husband. She has three grandchildren who bring her lots of joy.


Lynne Graham

Lynne is a writing and editing consultant who started out as a microbiologist and took a scenic route to her current role — one that included lecturing at a university, managing a Chamber of Commerce and running a pottery. For the past 12 years, she has written and edited for organizations in fields as diverse as tourism and engineering, security and health care.
Volunteering with community organizations is the perfect counterbalance to Lynne's sometimes-insular work environment. Since arriving in Saanich, she has enjoyed volunteering with Volunteer Victoria, Rotary, the Professional Editors Association of Vancouver Island and Saanich Volunteer Services. Lynne holds an MA in Professional Communication, an MSc in Microbiology, and a Diploma in Professional Writing. When she’s not poring over text or volunteering, she can be found gardening, kayaking or hiking Victoria's glorious trails.

Sarah McQuillan

Sarah McQuillan

Sarah joined the Saanich Volunteer Services Society Board of Directors in early 2017. Having been born and raised in Victoria, she was looking for an opportunity to become more involved with her Saanich community, and Saanich Volunteers Services seemed the perfect fit.
Sarah completed a Bachelor of Science degree in 2003 and a Master of Education degree in 2015. She currently works as a Co-op Coordinator at the University of Victoria. Prior to joining UVic, she worked as an Employment Facilitator at Camosun College and taught at secondary and post-secondary schools. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys reading and running, but her greatest joy is spending time with her husband and their two boys, playing tennis and vacationing in warm climates.


Bryan Vermeeren

Passionate about market development, managing projects and building teams, Bryan is excited to help enhance the quality of life for Saanich residents. Bryan studied Business Administration at the University of Victoria and recently completed the Masters certificate in Project Management through UVIC's executive education program. His volunteer background ranges from coaching, to team building, to event support, and he's excited to join the board of directors to help with community improvements for all.
In his free time Bryan enjoys travel, sailing, surfing and cycling. As a new member of the board Bryan is keen to meet volunteers and clients of the SVSS, so feel free to reach out and say hello!

Volunteer Advisory Council


Marie Jennings

Born and raised in the Cowichan Valley, Marie came to Victoria for post-secondary education and worked for the Provincial Government. She then raised two children and enjoyed a 25-year career with the Greater Victoria School District, beginning as a classroom aide and later spending 23 years working in the office of a Junior High School. It was in this busy school office that she mastered many of the skills she uses today at SVSS. Marie retired in 2003, travelled with her husband and looked after her grandchildren when they were small. Her favorite hobby, her garden, is large and consumes much time. It is her place for quiet meditation. Her other hobbies include painting and photography.
Marie's compassionate side led her to volunteer jobs where she could help others, so in the fall of 2003 she joined Thrifty’s Sendial Program and Saanich Volunteer Services.

Bill Bassal

Bil Bassal

Born in Cairo Egypt arrived to Montreal as landed immigrant in 1977 moved to Vancouver then Victoria in 1983. I enjoy very much being a Canadian Citizen. Since my retirement in 2016 and I am looking for something to do to contribute to society in a positive way.

As the Caregiver archetype resonate with my philosophy in life. Here is a few of the characteristics that I identify with:

The Caregiver’s motto is “love your neighbour as you love yourself.”  Core values are empathy, compassion, loyalty and love, finds reward in helping others. No one could ask for a better best friend or companion.

Core desire: is to protect and care for others, with the goal of helping those in need. Their greatest fear is selfishness and so they strive to do things without payment. They are susceptible to being exploited; however exercise great compassion and generosity either way.

Unique Challenge: Care for others in ways they are unable to care for themselves. Fear of being thought of as selfish and find it hard to say no.

Lesson to Learn: Learning to help when it’s really needed.


Jaime Traynor

Jaime learned of Saanich Volunteer Services Society’s work while still living on the prairies. When circumstances brought her back to Victoria — where she had completed an undergraduate degree in Recreation and Health Education at the University of Victoria in 2010 — she was delighted to have the opportunity to volunteer with SVSS.
Since 2016, Jaime has been walking weekly with a senior, driving clients to appointments and other commitments, and, most recently, joined the Volunteer Advisory Committee. Jaime has worked and volunteered in a variety of government and non-profit settings, both in Canada and abroad.
Outside of her work with SVSS, Jaime volunteers with KidSport, co-facilitates a peer support group for people living with a mental health condition, and enjoys travelling and getting out to dance, theatre, lectures, and events and activities happening around the city.


Helene Driscoll

You can find Helene's full bio above with the board of directors.