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Get Involved  

Learn to love volunteering

Hanna Parker is this week's Volinspire Volunteer of the Week.

What first inspired you to volunteer?

Honestly, I started volunteering only to complete the required hours for school, but I quickly realized that there was more to it than that. Volunteering has become something I enjoy and I like being able to say that I'm not just volunteering for school hours. The benefits of volunteering are tremendous, especially for a young high school student like myself.

Which cause are you most passionate about and why?

Education is one cause that I feel very passionate about because it is something that both myself and others have taken for granted. We as a society often forget that there are others who don't have the same opportunities as those in more economically developed countries. Education provides a platform for students that allows them to reach new places and gain new opportunities, and it's unfair that some people are denied this.

Which organization do you most commonly volunteer for?

I volunteer the most at Cottonwoods Care Centre as a Candy Striper.

What does a typical volunteer shift look like for this organization?

During a shift, I deliver water to the residents. I chat and spend time with them, which has resulted in bonds and friendly relationships with a couple of residents there. I help out the nurses if I can with small jobs and favours. It is a very friendly and flexible environment which teaches me about responsibility and I appreciate that. I get to meet and interact with interesting people that I normally wouldn't have the opportunity to. Life inside an assisted living facility is quite different, which was an eye-opener to me.

What impact have you seen volunteers make in the community?

Volunteering is a way for people to feel good about themselves. I have found that volunteers are generally very kind and positive people. This goes a long way in the community, because those who volunteer tend to spread their kindness and positivity to others around them, whether they are actively volunteering or not. A little commitment from volunteers can go a long way into helping those in need and creating a brighter future for those around us.

What is the most memorable moment or experience you've had while volunteering?

My best volunteering memories are from when I helped organize OKM's Car Smash for Fort McMurray. I was working with a great bunch of people, and we had tons of fun leading up to the event. On the day of our fundraising event, we rolled an Oldsmobile onto the back field and charged students to smash it to raise money for the families in Fort McMurray. The best part was when I got to destroy the side windows with a crowbar. Smashing an old car to smithereens felt awesome, and I highly recommend it as a stress reliever!

What support does your organization currently need, and how can people learn more or get involved?

I have volunteered for many organizations, yet all of them need one thing in common... More volunteers! There are very few organizations out there who can honestly say that they have more than enough volunteers; they are always on the lookout for bright and friendly people.

The best way to get involved is to get online. I found that simply going onto the organization's website or checking out their profile on Volinspire will give me enough information to contact an organizer.

Is there anyone else you would like to recognize that has helped support you to make a difference?

Cottonwoods Care Centre and Interior Health. It given me the experience of working at a care facility, and volunteering there has helped open my eyes to new possibilities. I also want to say thank you to Volinspire and Interior Savings, because their help and support is what made the OKM Car Smash possible.

Special shout out to my fellow Volinspire Amassadors – Madelyn Miyashita, Emma Van Demark, Kristian Oppenheim, Andrew Kates, Natalie Waynert. They helped raise more than $7,000 from our event to support the Canadian Red Cross.

Get Volinspired! Learn more about Volinspire and local volunteer opportunities at volinspire.com.





Okanagan Stomp

On Saturday September 17th, enthusiastic teams of 5-8 people will participate in Okanagan Stomp presented by BDO at House of Rose Winery to help raise funds to send kids to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Camp Goodtimes.

This event is a fun way for participants to test their creativity, teamwork and problem-solving skills. Teams complete a series of wine-related activities including Blind Taste Testing, Mystery Food Box Challenge and the lip-sync Stomp Performance – a 2-3 minute performance in the grand grape stomping barrel.

This year it’s all for a very worthwhile cause – because of the generosity of our community partners (BDO Canada LLP, House of Rose, Urban Fare, SunFM and EZ Rock) 100% of team registration fees and fundraised dollars go directly to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Camp Goodtimes.

Camp Goodtimes is a summer recreation program that provides a unique summer experience for children and
teens affected by cancer and their families. For every $1500.00 raised we will be able to send one spectacular child and their family to Camp. Our goal is to send not 1, not 2 but 3 children to camp for summer experience they will never forget.

Set in the scenic landscape of Loon Lake Lodge here in beautiful British Columbia, Camp Goodtimes provides a safety-focused, fun, recreational program at no cost to participants. Participants experience adventure, take on challenges, form lasting friendships and unforgettable memories. Many children and teens are empowered by the time they spend at camp. Many families are renewed by time away without the stress of coping with cancer. (www.campgoodtimes.org)

Okanagan Stomp takes place on Saturday, September 17th at House of Rose Winery (2270 Garner Road) and is from 11am to 3pm. Spectators are encouraged to attend, watch & taste, since $2.00 from every bottle of wine sold at the House of Rose September 17th, goes to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Camp Goodtimes program.

To register a team or make a donation to the Okanagan Stomp, presented by BDO visit www.cancer.ca/okanaganstomp
Registration closes September 10th



Giving back with gratitude

Tamara McLellan is this week's Volinspire volunteer of the week.

What first inspired you to volunteer?

I moved around a lot growing up and saw my parents volunteer and get involved in the community everywhere we went. That was likely the first motivator that I recognized at an early age. I also had a life-changing moment when I was 22-years-old, at a marketing conference where I saw the philanthopist John Wood (Founder of Room to Read and author of Leaving Microsoft to Change the World) speak. This was my awakening. Only then did I truly grasp the gratitude that I now have for the circumstances I was born into. It was my realization then, that I had to take my place in this world and pay it forward. Since that moment I've traveled around Africa, India and Central America volunteering, while getting very involved in each community I've lived in as well.

Which cause are you most passionate about and why?

I care deeply about gender issues because I believe women hold up half the sky and it's vital to our evolution as a human race that our voices are heard on a fair and equal level. I have spent time in India working with women and adolescent girls, and have also spent time with executives and the elite one per cent at board tables in the West, and it's appalling that inequality is still happening at all levels.
I believe wholeheartedly in food security and work with a group of farmers in El Salvador who are fighting oppression just for the right to grow food in a healthy environment.
And I will fight for human rights for everyone - regardless of race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation, for as long as I'm alive.

Which organization do you most commonly volunteer for?

Right now, I split my time between four organizations: IWEN., TEDxKelowna, Otra Fe, and GECCO.
IWEN focuses on assisting women and children obtain education and freedom in Nepal, with a local focus on marginalized women in the Okanagan.
TEDxKelowna is expanding minds and igniting change in Kelowna with local TEDx events.
Otra Fe is a food security project that works with campecinos (peasant farmers) in El Salvador, helping them to secure heritage seed and all the tools necessary to farm their land, as well as education on sustainable methods of farming. Otra Fe is also involved with other projects in the community, including a women's run bakery, a health clinic, and child sponsorship programs.
GECCO is the newest chapter of BCCIC (BC Council for International Cooperation). It stands for Global Empowerment Coalition for the Central Okanagan. We plan on bringing networking and learning opportunities to the local international development community.

What does a typical volunteer shift look like for this organization?

A typical volunteer shift on the ground here in Kelowna for IWEN means working a scarf sale - sitting at a booth selling scarves and sharing the story of our women and girls in Nepal. Some back story: IWEN was involved in the creation of a UNAKO house in Nepal where women could come together in community and for enterprise opportunities. One of our enterprise opportunties is our Nepali women's sewing group. These women create beautiful scarves from material found in Nepal. We in turn take these scarves and sell them in our community and send all profits back through IWEN. We have a booth at most Christmas craft sales and various school and women's events throughout the year.
A typical volunteer shift for TEDx would mean volunteering time to help run the annual event - working with speakers, sponsorships, media, taking tickets at the door, seating people, etc.

What impact have you seen volunteers make in the community?

This last year, our TEDx event Igniting Change was awesome! It was amazing seeing what a small volunteer run committee is capable of putting on. The event had over 300 attendees and sparked conversations of change among many Kelowna residents.
This fall, IWEN will be launching a Women's Walk & Talk group, with topics based around wellness, inclusion, and self-care for immigrant women, in partnership with the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society and Kelowna Community Resources. I'm really excited to see how that goes.

What is the most memorable moment or experience you've had while volunteering?

It could be when we dedicated the Habitat for Humanity homes when I lived in Virden, Manitoba. It might have been when my adolescent girls class in India discussed and did presentations on gender-based violence and abortions, and I learned more from them then they did from me. Or possibly when, at a meeting with peasant farmers in Ahuachapan (a small community in El Salvador) they invited me into the crowd to come sit with them and took me in as their own. I remember working at a soup kitchen in Winnipeg and meeting eyes with some of those that we were serving, seeing silent thank yous as we went down the line. Or having a moment with the crew after TEDxKelowna's 2015 event to let the stresses of the event melt away. I simply can't choose, there are so many! The connection you make with a community by volunteering is always a beautiful thing.

What support does your organization currently need, and how can people learn more or get involved?

We definitely need help with all three local NGOs that I work for:
IWEN would love scarf sale volunteers, along with anyone willing to do administrative data entry or communications work.
GECCO is always looking for members to get involved with our events. Look up BCCIC.ca to understand more about the organization. We will have a facebook page soon!
TEDxKelowna is also looking for volunteers to get involved with our annual event.
Interested volunteers could send me a message to talk about any of the above opportunities.

Get Volinspired! Find more volunteer opportunities at volinspire.com.



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A volunteer with pride

Ben Moody, head co-ordinator of the Pride Resource Centre at UBC Okanagan, is the latest in our Volinspire series on local volunteers.

The Okanagan Pride Festival is on now and continues until Aug. 13.

What first inspired you to volunteer?

I wanted to contribute to the LGBTQ+ community at UBC Okanagan. When I first started taking classes at the university, there was not much of a community, and the Pride Resource Centre was going through some difficult transitions. Both co-ordinators were graduating, and no one was in line to take over. I decided that I needed to step up and inspire UBCO to care about the LGBTQ+ community.

Which cause are you most passionate about and why?

While I work with all parts of the LGBTTQQ2IPA community, my passion is with gay men's health. I have been privileged to work with Vancouver-based organizations such as the Community Based Research Centre and the Provincial Gay Men's and HIV Working Group and the BC Centre for Disease Control. With these groups, I contributed to a provincial action plan on HIV health and will be assisting with sexual health surveys during Vancouver Pride.

Which organization do you most commonly volunteer for?

I volunteer as the head co-ordinator of the UBC Students' Union Okanagan Pride Resource Centre.

What does a typical volunteer shift look like for this organization?

It's a very open position. Shifts are non-existent, however we do hold office hours. Most of our work is done outside of these office hours and involves event planning, responding to emails, and working towards a safer campus for LGBTQ+ students, staff and faculty.

What impact have you seen volunteers make in the community?

The LGBTQ+ community in Kelowna is mostly run by volunteers, most of whom have day jobs and spend their free time in meetings and volunteering at events. Truly, our community is run by some amazing and selfless people. I particularly want to say thank you to the amazing people at the Okanagan Pride Society and the Living Positive Resource Centre .What is the most memorable moment or experience you've had while volunteering?

There have been so many memorable moments. One of my most cherished moments was during the Transgender Day of Rememberance ceremony we held on campus. It was an emotional evening seeing so many people show up and support the transgender community and memorialize the losses that the community has felt.

What support does your organization currently need, and how can people learn more or get involved?

Our organization is pretty self-sufficient, however we always need volunteers for events and are always looking for other organizations to collaborate with. If people want to get involved, they can email me at [email protected]

Is there anyone else you would like to recognize that has helped support you to make a difference?

There have been so many people that have helped our little community at UBCO. We couldn't be where we are today without the help of people like Jenica Frisque, Amara Thibodeau, Sydney Lawson, Sarah Desrosiers, Amy Park, Jay Gatza, Tom Macauley, Romey Jaswal, Kira Risler, and so many more.

Find more volunteer opportunities and connections at Volinspire.



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