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Matches made at Okanagan Volunteer Opportunities Fair

Sarah MacKinnon of the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs speaks with a potential volunteer at the 15th Annual Okanagan Volunteer Opportunities Fair Saturday. - Wade Paterson/Capital News
Sarah MacKinnon of the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs speaks with a potential volunteer at the 15th Annual Okanagan Volunteer Opportunities Fair Saturday.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

Last year, Carol Fazekas was walking the halls of Parkinson Recreation Centre, looking for an organization to volunteer with.

A lot has changed in the last 365 days.

This past Saturday she was once again at the 15th Annual Okanagan Volunteer Opportunities Fair.

But this time, she wasn't looking to volunteer, she was the one informing potential volunteers.

"I'm specifically asking them: What are they looking for? What are their skills? What do they hope to get out of a volunteer opportunity?" said Fazekas.

"The types of questions I'm asking them were the types of things I was seeking last year."

Before the 2011 volunteer fair, Fazekas said she had no idea who she wanted to lend her skills to.

"I wanted to do something different from my work, so I came and went to every single booth and talked to a lot of people to find out what they did.

"When I connected with the places where I felt my strengths and skills could be used the best, those were the groups I considered."

A year later, Fazekas is president of the Central Okanagan Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada and volunteers with Emergency Support Services.

Many of the organizations present at Saturday's event were happy with the turnout.

Cyndy Omand is a volunteer with the Kelowna branch of the BC SPCA.

She said volunteering is not only fulfilling, but essential to make a strong community.

"You're giving back to your community—that's how great communities are built," said Omand.

In many areas, such as dog walking, the Kelowna SPCA is fortunate to have long lists of volunteers.

But according to Omand, there is a shortage of volunteers for other areas such as administrative work.

Sarah MacKinnon was in charge of the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs booth Saturday.

She said volunteerism is what makes the club function.

"Our services don't succeed very well without volunteers; some of our programs are almost entirely volunteer based," said MacKinnon.

She said she does her best to find suitable jobs for all potential volunteers.

"I always tell people, 'Just tell me what you're interested in and I'll find a place for you.'"

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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