KCR: Volunteering is a two-way street

KCR: Volunteering is a two-way street

KCR Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Trinh Son and her husband moved to the Okanagan from Saigon, Vietnam in 2020, to join their daughter, studying at UBCO. As someone who had already volunteered in church and community activities since high school, Trinh knew that one way for her to get settled in her new home was to get involved right away. She started volunteering at KCR Community Resources, The Resilient Mind Project (TRM), the Food Bank and at the Library with the NewToBC program. She also joined the Board of the organization that she had worked for in Vietnam for many years, the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (CNCF).

“I arrived in the Okanagan just right at the COVID-19 outbreak. At the beginning, the pandemic and social restrictions made things difficult for me to reach out to the community,” says Trinh. “Technology has played a significant role in helping us do our work remotely. I have attended meetings and worked with my team in other countries via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. When restrictions on gathering were lifted, I could volunteer and attend some activities in person. That enabled me to participate the Okanagan Volunteer Fair and volunteer at the Food Bank. With the Library Champion Project (NewToBC) our weekly meetings remain virtual, but in-person activities will be considered when appropriate.”

Trinh feels obligated to do something when she sees people in need around her and is inspired by the Peace Prayer of St Francis: “…Where there is despair, let me bring hope… Where there is sadness, let me bring joy…Let me not seek as much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love…”.

“Helping those in need has brought me the appreciation of all that I have in life despite the adversities or setbacks I have had,” explains Trinh. “I learn a lot from the stories of people who overcame their hardships and challenges with their perseverance. It’s amazing to see how they grew and thrived when faced with their crises. It’s also a reminder for me to keep persevering in life, since life is composed of ups and downs.”

“Having worked many years with people of disadvantaged backgrounds, I have learned that there are so many people living out there in desperate situations,” Trinh continues. “If we do something together, we can help them lead a better life. Volunteering is one of my ways to empower myself so that I can help disadvantaged people empower themselves. Even with just a small act of kindness or contribution, volunteering can make a big impact in other people’s lives and to our communities.”

As many volunteers also discover, volunteering usually helps the volunteer as well. “It may sound a bit funny but my volunteering at the Food Bank last year helped me get familiar with different types of local food that I never knew before back home,” laughs Trinh. “This experience made me realise that there are always a lot of things out there for me to explore. And volunteering can help me with this exploration. Also, volunteering is a two-way street, ‘for it is in the giving that we receive.’”

Dorothee Birker is the communications and development coordinator for KCR Community Resources. If you are interested in sharing your volunteer or organizational news, please contact Dorothee at dorothee@kcr.ca.

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