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KCR: Non-profits organizations

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

As part of our ongoing series to feature volunteers and volunteer opportunities in the Central Okanagan, we are sharing stories from non-profits organizations along with our Volunteer55 Ambassador profiles.

Our goal is to envision and inspire potential volunteers with unique opportunities that can connect them to discover a new passion and to help them make impact in the community.

Our first profile is the Rotary Centre for the Arts (RCA), which is not a city-run facility as some may believe.

Rather, the centre was envisioned, created and is now managed by a non-profit organization governed by a volunteer board of directors.

There are thousands of volunteers who have committed hundreds of thousands of hours serving on committees and boards, helping at events and fundraisers, and advocating for the importance of arts in the community.

The centre got its start because of the passion of local arts volunteers who in the early 1990s saw the need for a multi-disciplinary arts facility.

They created the Kelowna Visual and Performing Arts Centre Society (KVPACS) to raise funds and turn the old Growers Supply building into a cultural centre.

With the support of the city, businesses, philanthropists and many more volunteers, the Rotary Centre of the Arts came to fruition in 2002 and has become one of the anchors of Kelowna’s Cultural District.

The KVPACS remains a key arts organization that has helped to make the Kelowna area a more desirable and livable area while also contributing significantly to Kelowna’s cultural tourism.

Volunteers continue to be at the heart of this non-profit organization, helping it to achieve its mission “to celebrate, nurture, and promote the arts through diversity, entertainment, and education.”

Colleen Fitzpatrick, executive director of the RCA, shared some of the impact of the centre and also new volunteer opportunities the facility now offers.

“The RCA sees almost 15,000 hours of use each year, hosts 500 programs and has a total of 230,000 attendees annually,” explained Fitzpatrick, citing pre-COVID statistics.

“We usually have over 60 volunteers that provide over 10,280 hours of their time. Because of the pandemic, we are widening the opportunities and the demographics of our volunteers.

“We really like to give youth opportunities and are recruiting volunteers aged 18-30 specifically to help with events.

“Youth are a very important component of our community. They are passionate about the arts and they want to have impact on the world around them.”

Fitzpatrick also recognizes the benefits of multi-generational volunteerism, where youth and seniors are connected by their love of the arts and of giving back.

“We can’t put the programming out in the community without volunteers. They allow us to execute on the many arts and culture opportunities out there,” continued Fitzpatrick.

“We are broadening opportunities for volunteers to expand beyond ushers in the theatre and they are helping us to offer more experiences out in the community like the iArt trailer outside the RCA and the Meet me on Bernard project.”

“Our volunteers are the front-facing people helping to create memorable and lasting experiences for our patrons and audiences. We ask volunteers for a one-year commitment of 10 hours a month, or a minimum of 50 hours a year.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities with the RCA, check out their website

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