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Get Volinspired!

Today, we launch a new series of profiles on the volunteers who help make our community such a great place.

In partnership with local website Volinspire.com, we'll bring you up close with the folks who work behind the scenes for numerous vital community organizations.

We kick the series off with a Q&A with Fern Carr, who volunteers with Project Literacy. 

What first inspired you to volunteer?

My husband’s enthusiasm about Project Literacy prompted me to learn more about this organization. I was so impressed, I joined the board of directors and am now serving as the board president and chair.

Which cause are you most passionate about and why?

Literacy and animal advocacy are my “top two” causes. Literacy is such an integral component of our society, I regard myself as fortunate to be able to contribute to an organization which embraces it.

Which organization do you most commonly volunteer for?

I am the current president and chair of the Project Literacy Kelowna Society board of directors. I was formerly president and chair of the Kelowna branch of the BC SPCA and briefly served on the BC SPCA provincial board.

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

Rather than quantifying volunteer hours, I’d have to say that what I observe is an inclusive, welcoming atmosphere. Tutors, learners and staff are always smiling and there is a real joy of learning.

What impact have you seen volunteers make in the community?

Volunteers are the lifeblood of any non-profit. PLKS is fortunate to draw from a pool of talented people who serve in various capacities whether it be helping with fundraising activities or strategic planning and governance at the board level. Our volunteer tutors are able to view the results of their efforts firsthand when they witness the personal successes of their learners. They feel proud to see their learners: attain Canadian citizenship, complete courses at post-secondary institutions, read their children bedtime stories and attend parent-teacher interviews. The list goes on.

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

It is difficult to distill this down to only one memorable moment, but one of my fondest memories was when after a meeting, I happened upon a Project Literacy conversation club session for people learning English. I decided to sit in and, coincidentally, this particular group of learners happened to come from countries where they spoke some of the languages I have learned. I made a point of speaking to each one in French, Spanish and Mandarin. I told them that I know how it feels to learn a language, especially when you have thoughts you want to express but are self-conscious as to how you will sound to others. They knew exactly what I meant, and I’ll never forget their smiles of appreciation.

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

As with all non-profits, we need funding to exist. We ask that the public help us to get the word out about the valuable services that Project Literacy provides. To learn more about volunteer opportunities or to donate, please visit our website at projectliteracykelowna.org. You can also visit our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.

Where do you work?

I am a former lawyer and French immersion teacher. I am currently a professional poet and member of the League of Canadian Poets. Published from Finland to Mauritius, I am thrilled to have one of my poems currently orbiting Mars on NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft. 

What does your company do to make a positive impact in our community?

I am pleased that my craft has both community and global impact. I have written poetry that has been published in anthologies, the proceeds of which have been directed to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, Doctors without Borders, and SOS Children’s Villages. Other anthologies in which I’ve been published have been distributed to the military overseas and used to fundraise for animal shelters.

Volinspire is a digital platform that enables non-profits and businesses the opportunity to recognize their volunteers for their hard work in the community.

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