KCR: Volunteers make a difference locally and nationally

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

“Make a Difference” is the motto of the Central Okanagan Branch of the National Association of Federal Retirees and it is at the heart of Jan Redlich, the branch Vice-President and Membership team leader’s drive to recruit volunteers.

“Without volunteers, we would not have a presence in the community,” explains Jan. “There are 79 branches across Canada, and all are staffed by volunteers. There is a volunteer National Board of Directors and a national office staffed by paid professionals who lead in administration, government liaison, advocacy, pension benefits, communication. However, volunteers are the local voice for members.”

The National Association of Federal Retirees is one of the largest non-profit organizations in Canada with approximately 170,000 members. It has been in existence for over 50 years, as has the Central Okanagan branch, which covers Lake Country to Peachland and has about 1500 members.

“Members who have questions about seniors’ services or programs have access to a branch message phone or email at all times that is answered within 24 hours,” says Jan. “In normal times (pre-pandemic) the branch also holds social activities, learning experiences and participates in community services.”

Volunteers must be members of the association and to be a member they must be eligible for a federal pension. This includes federal government employees who have retired or will retire from the public Service, Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP or federally appointed judges as well as their partners and survivors.

“There are opportunities for members to try new activities utilizing skills and interests from their careers or to learn new skills. They can participate in advocacy initiatives to influence governments, to communicate with members or public representatives, or just take on short projects to support the branch motto,” explains Jan. “The reward for volunteers is the opportunity to meet new members and volunteers from other non-profit organizations as well as community leaders. They can gain self-satisfaction in knowing they helped someone through a difficult time or made a positive difference in someone’s life.”

Opportunities for volunteers include a lot of flexibility, depending on how much time people have to give, although ideally there is training involved and more options become available as people become more familiar with the organization. The Branch currently has 8 directors that oversee the Branch’s activities and there may be openings becoming available for these roles. Anyone interested in joining this active and committed group that advocates and serves seniors is asked to contact the branch office at 250-712-6213 or by email to kelownaafr@gmail.com. You can also find out more info at https://web.federalretirees.ca/centralokanagan.

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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