Challenged to give back

You've been challenged Kelowna – challenged to give back to your community.

As part of sesquicentennial celebrations across the country, Kelowna has joined the 150 for 150 Volunteer Challenge.

The nationwide movement, in honour of Canada's 150th birthday, encourages residents to give what time they have, be it an hour, or 150 hours, this year.

The goal is to amass 150,000 hours of tracked volunteer time by Kelowna residents throughout 2017.

Now, 150,000 sounds like a big number and it is," said Mayor Colin Basran in kicking off the campaign at Stuart Park.

"But imagine a city with a population of almost 128,000. What if each person gave one or two hours of volunteering in a single year. You could see how 150,000 hours is absolutely attainable. And, you know what, quite honestly, we should surpass that."

The Central Okanagan has more than 370 non-profit organizations looking for volunteer help.

One of those is Habitat for Humanity.

"In the last couple of decades, Habitat, because of the volunteers, has been able to put over 40 local families in a home they can call their own. In the next five years, we hope to provide homes for another 30 families," said spokesperson Lorraine Richmond.

"We are right on track, and I will tell you why. It's because our volunteers have stepped up."

Residents can track and log their hours using the tracking system powered by Kelowna tech company Volinspire. The company was chosen to be the official tracking platform of the national campaign.

The mayor got the ball rolling Wednesday by challenging other municipalities, mayors and councillors to take up the challenge.

Okanagan Mission Secondary school student Madelyn Miyashita had a similar message for students.

"My team of Volinspire students ambassadors have an action plan to kickstart volunteering incentives within the school district," said Miyashita.

"We want to challenge each school to volunteer the most hours between now and June. In the very near future, each participating high school will have a youth volunteering team registered on Volinspire to track each member's hours."

The 150 for 150 volunteer Challenge runs all year.

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