Seventy-six organizations met with hundreds of potential volunteers Saturday at Parkinson Recreation Centre in an attempt to fill much-needed volunteer positions within the community.
The 16th annual Okanagan Volunteer Opportunities Fair was busy from start to finish, according to Dawn Wilkinson, manager of community services for Kelowna Community Resources.
“We’re really delighted with the turnout,” said Wilkinson.
She noted there are many different factors that brought Kelowna residents out to Saturday’s volunteer fair.
“We’ve got people who are doing a lot of volunteering and are looking for something different…we’ve had a number of students from UBCO looking for experience and ways to gain some skills.”
Heather Wilson is already a volunteer with the Kelowna Community Theatre; she came to Parkinson Recreation Centre Saturday to discover a few more opportunities.
“It’s important for the whole community to get involved in volunteering. We wouldn’t be able to provide a lot of the programs that we have going on through the city without volunteers,” said Wilson.
According to Wilkinson, there are 550 not-for-profit organizations in the region.
“Every one of them needs a volunteer board, so that’s an absolute minimum of five to nine people on board. Other organizations are very grassroots and deliver their programs totally through volunteers,” said Wilkinson.
“Volunteers are absolutely essential.”
Tony Jansen, manager of case workers for Kelowna Gospel Mission, echoed Wilkinson’s thoughts.
“We could not exist without volunteers,” said Jansen, noting a recent Kelowna Gospel Mission volunteer appreciation event was held for more than 100 people who had helped out over the past year.
“From the thrift store, to helping the drivers, to cleaning the dormitory, to gathering funds, to being on the board or serving in leadership roles. There are just so many (needs).”
He added the Kelowna Gospel Mission has benefitted significantly over the years from the annual Okanagan Volunteer Opportunities Fair.
“We’ve been here every year; we find it very effective to be here.”