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Inspired to help out

Andrew Kates is our latest Volinspire volunteer of the week.

What first inspired you to volunteer?

Volunteering has always been an interest of mine. Anthony J. D'Angelo once said, “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community." I can identify with this way of thinking, as I believe that we, as individuals in a community, have a responsibility to care for it, and therefore maintain it. Initially, I was inspired to volunteer at the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank, as I was interested in a program which allowed me to directly give back to the community, or more importantly, to those in need. The ability to experience direct contact with those who I had helped felt truly gratifying, and personally seeing the necessity of volunteering and helping others reinforced my belief in stepping forward for one's community. Seeing the impact of the organization and its volunteers inspired me to seek out new and more volunteering positions, as I hoped to be part of an impact on the community in other capacities as well.

Which cause are you most passionate about and why?

It is hard to pick a single cause that I am most passionate about, because I consider all of them important. However, I particularly believe in helping to curtail poverty. Serving in the Food Bank has demonstrated to me the importance of helping those who are financially less fortunate. Their serious dependence on the meals that are offered to them, and their positivity and gratefulness, illustrated for me a clear picture of why poverty is an issue which we need to tackle. If we don't help these people, we may never see the great value that some could bring to making our world a better place.

Which organization do you most commonly volunteer for?

Presently, I spend a lot of my time volunteering for the Okanagan Taneda Karate Dojo, a martial arts school for youth and adults located across the valley.

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

Currently, I volunteer as a senpai, or a teacher, at the local Karate dojo. During each junior class, I serve as an instructor for an hour and a half. This includes leading the junior karate members through warm-ups and basic excercises. For the rest of the class, I continue to help coach the young students and help them improve their technique, their kumite (competitve freestyle fighting), and their katas (choreographed karate). During these classes, I participate alongside the children in games, cultivating relationships with them. Finally, I help to record attendance and set up and tear down equipment once class has finished. It is very rewarding, as I am able to see the long term progress of the kids over months, getting to experience the childrens' results from my efforts in real time.

What impact have you seen volunteers make in the community?

The impact made by volunteers in the community is huge. A lot of the causes I believe in - and volunteer for - would not be possible without the commitment and hard work of these volunteers. They love to work with each other, for the community, and for the benefit of others. I've seen the efforts of volunteers first hand when I was helping to organize a car smash fundraiser for Fort McMurray. They made the event entirely possible, as it was organized, marketed, and run as a result in part of these volunteers.

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

A few months ago during school, a group of students and I organized and ran a fundraiser event for the Fort McMurray wildfire. We brought in a car to the backyard area of our school during lunches, and our classmates would smash up the car to raise money. It was an awesome experience, and I'll never forget seeing my vice principle smashing the car to smithereens with a sledgehammer! Being able to support those affected by the wildfire was amazing, but seeing the school coming together at this event - being able to engage each student and have them invest in our school's spirit - was unexpected, and felt very rewarding.

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

The Okanagan Mission Secondary school car smash helped to raise funds for the Canadian Red Cross in support of Fort McMurray. Those who've been afflicted by the fire can still need help. Donations to Red Cross for Fort McMurray can be made on their site as well as other info on how to help out for the cause. We will be holding the car smash event again next year, most likely May/June, and will be selling the chance to smash a car for charitable causes.

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

Central Okanagan Community Food Bank has had a huge impact on the community and has given me a tremendous volunteering opportunity. Our car smash event couldn't have happened without Interior Savings, a great company that has played a huge part in helping the volunteering team from Volinspire which I am proud to be a part of.

Check out more volunteer opportunities and profiles at volinspire.com.

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