The Kelowna Newcomers Club, under growing pressure to accept members from Vernon, has offered an informal mentorship arrangement to help Vernon residents establish their own club.
“We’ve recently seen an uptick in the number of applicants from the Vernon area,” says KNC president Jean-Claude Gavrel. “Unfortunately, with the burgeoning membership numbers we already have from the Central Okanagan, we’ve been forced to turn away people from further north.”
Gavrel added that the KNC Board agreed at its most recent meeting to offer Vernon residents guidance in setting up a club for newcomers to that city.
“Our organization has been around for 50 years, it’s one of the oldest such clubs in Canada, so we have plenty of experience that we’re willing to share,” said Gavrel. “At well over 500 members, we’re also by far the largest.”
But the Kelowna group’s popularity comes with specific challenges.
In order to keep the organization at a manageable size, the group’s executive is moving to limit its service area to cities and towns within the Regional District of Central Okanagan. Vernon lies beyond those borders.
Many Canadian municipalities have volunteer clubs whose function is to help newcomers meet other local residents and learn more about their new community.
The clubs typically offer a variety of social functions and activities, from art lessons and hiking to wine tasting and group excursions. The KNC, which is currently moving to adopt an online system for managing its affairs, also holds monthly meetings featuring interesting guest speakers.
While many of the newcomers clubs across Canada are open only to women, the KNC offers its services to men and women.
Gus Boetzkes, a KNC director, said several members of the club have offered to mentor volunteers from Vernon interested in setting up their own club.
“The KNC has been a wonderful way for us to integrate into our new lives in Kelowna,” Boetzkes said. “We feel that we can use our knowledge to help newcomers to Vernon enjoy the same opportunities in their own town.”
All it would take, he added, is a small group of dedicated volunteers interested in getting a club set up and launched.
For further information, contact Gus Boetzkes, at (778) 738-2180 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those interested can also check out the KNC website at https://kelownanewcomers.ca to get a glimpse of what a newcomers club can offer.
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