KCR: Volunteers have happy hearts

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

National Volunteer Appreciation Week is coming up April 24-30 with the theme “Empathy in Action”. Volunteer Canada chose this theme to affirm the strong connection between volunteerism and empathy and the truth that human connection is at the heart of healthier individuals and stronger communities.

Empathy is a quality that can help people relate to others and build awareness around different experiences. It connects people in ideas and actions and helps create bonds forged in common goals and aspirations. Volunteering also can help us develop empathy, as we see the world through the eyes of others.

Darla Aitken has been volunteering for over 20 years, both during her busy career as a banker, and now that she is retired. What she has learned through volunteering confirms this idea.

“Volunteering makes me feel HAPPY in Heart,” explains Darla enthusiastically. “I wear my heart on my sleeve and I realize how truly blessed I am. There is so much need in our community. By being able to help out in such a small way, these needs are being met.”

“I volunteer to give back to my community. It is my privilege to serve others that come to the Westside Salvation Army door. This can be for a meal, for clothing, or for someone to hear their story, adds Darla. “When volunteering for the Christmas Gifts of Hope program, it warms my heart to see the joy on families faces when they get to pick out their children’s gifts for Christmas.”

Darla has helped with a variety of the Salvation Army initiatives and now helps administratively for the Community Life Centre for the Salvation Army. She has continued to work throughout the pandemic, following the safety precautions set in place because, as she says, “the need to serve people did not stop during this time.”

Darla moved to the Okanagan twelve years ago and is very proud to call West Kelowna home. She loves spending time with her six grandchildren and is an avid reader, especially loving books with a twist and whodunit type of mystery novels. She also loves live theatre and the movies.

Working with the great team at the Westside Salvation Army is a joy for Darla and confirms the idea that volunteerism builds our capacity to work collectively to contribute to a vibrant, inclusive society. If you are looking for a great team to be a part of, check out the opportunities to share your empathy and skills with a variety of great non-profit organizations in the Central Okanagan on the Volunteer Connector at https://kcr.ca/volunteer/resources/or contact us at 250-763-8008.

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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