Katie Phelps

KCR: Empower HER

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

Kate Phelps is the executive director of Her International and she knows first-hand what an amazing organization this is to volunteer for as she herself started as a volunteer on its Board.

“When I first moved to Kelowna, I went to the Volunteer Fair as I wanted to contribute to an organization whose mission aligned with my own interests and abilities,” says Kate. “Her International’s work both internationally and in our own backyard focusing on women and girls resonated with me. Everything that I learned about the organizations drew me in more.”

“I loved the focus on self-reliance and the ‘give back’ piece where every program participants gives something back to their community or to the organization,” Kate continues. “This approach really forms an empowering partnership between Her International and the participants so that those we work with don’t view themselves as victims but as agents of change.”

Her International’s Mission is to Empower HER through education. It was founded in 2005 to offer education programs for women and girls both locally in Canada and globally through programs in Nepal. The programs facilitate self-reliance and connect women with the innate power within themselves to lead to greater confidence, capacity, and to thrive.

Volunteers can make an impact with Her International by helping with local events and social enterprise projects. They also have a lot of virtual opportunities, including helping with social media, marketing, programming, fundraising and being on the Board of Directors.

Kate has been both volunteering and then working with Her International for over 10 years and she sees the organization as unique as it is heart-driven but also very process and data engaged, which can be a difficult balance to find.

“I love the holistic approach to development in Nepal, working with girls, their mothers and the community,” says Kate. “I love the approach the organization has to fiscal responsibility. It is a grassroots organization that really uses every dollar to the max.”

Kate shares that one of her favourite experiences has been seeing the mutual desire to give back from both Canadians and the participants in Nepal.

“Knowing that we support kids being able to go to school, we have had many children raise money to support girls’ scholarships. They have run lemonade stands, made and sold crafts and even given up birthday presents and asked for donations instead,” says Kate. “And then we have had many of the women and girls in Nepal run their own fundraiser to support the work we do with marginalized women here in Kelowna. They gathered together as a community to support their sisters in Canada, just as we had supported them. It perfectly illustrates how we work. Women and girls in Nepal are capable of effecting change and empowering themselves and others, just as we seek to share what we have in Canada to lift others. THIS is true empowerment!”

“The people I work with have become my family and I know that I am making a difference,” concludes Kate enthusiastically. “Volunteers make an impact by sharing their passion, ideas, and experience!”

Check out more about Her International on their website www.HerInternational.org and see how you can share your passion, ideas and experience with them.

The Okanagan Volunteer Fair that originally connected Kate to Her International is holding its 24th annual edition on Saturday, September 18th at Parkinson Recreation Centre. Find out more about it on www.kcr.ca.

The VolunteerConnector helps volunteers find their passion and impact areas. To sign up, contact Emily at KCR Community Resources (emily@kcr.ca or www.kcr.ca). To meet with organizations and learn about their programs come to the Okanagan Volunteer Fair on Sept. 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Parkinson Recreation Centre.

Dorothee Birker is the communications and development coordinator for KCR Community Resources.

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