Recently I have been reflecting on my career path and the importance that volunteerism has played in that.
After university I felt lost, not knowing what to do next.
Moving back to the Okanagan, it seemed opportunities were limited and to be really honest, I wasn’t sure what my degree in political science was going to do for me.
I went to work in a family business and found a lot of satisfaction in that. I loved working with my siblings and while we were working hard together, life was pretty good.
Then a friend asked me to volunteer for an event that she was planning and a whole new world opened up to me.
Volunteering connected me to a new social network and to new passions. Volunteering became my happy place and what started as a hobby, became my life’s work.
Over 26 years later, I am happily working my dream job, supporting volunteers and non-profit organizations as they build community. And on occasion, I still get to hang out and volunteer at the family business if needed.
Telling stories about how volunteers build community is part of why I love my work.
The volunteer ambassadors of the Volunteer55 program are sharing their stories to let you know volunteering is not only a benefit to the community, but also to the individual who share their time.
All of the ambassadors are aged over 55 and have lived full lives. They now share their skills, knowledge, passion and community spirit with a variety of community non-profit organizations. Enjoy their intros weekly in the Capital News and check out their full interviews on our website at www.kcr.ca/volunteer.
This week, meet Cleo Ruffle who was born in Trinidad, pursued nursing in the UK and immigrated to Canada in 1984, finally moving to the Okanagan in 1990.
“Volunteering is very important to me, it is a way for me to give back to my community. It’s motivating and rewarding to know I make a difference in someone’s lonely life. My passion has always been helping others,” she said.
As a volunteer at Lake Country Health and Lake Country Seniors Housing Society, Cleo is making a difference, especially during these isolating times during the pandemic.
Cleo’s best advice: “There are many ways to volunteer, choose one that is suitable for you, one which brings joy to your heart and fills a void for someone else.”
Even during COVID times, there are ways to volunteer that are safe for everyone.
To find out more about volunteer opportunities, get in touch with KCR Community Resources and we can help you get started and to find the perfect opportunity. Don’t let age get in the way – there are opportunities for those younger and older, and everyone in between. There are hands-on, safe opportunities and there are great virtual or volunteer-from-home opportunities. The best thing is just to get started. You can find out more at www.kcr.ca or call us at 250-763-8008.
Dorothee Birker is the communications and development coordinator for KCR Community Resources, a multi-service agency offering programs and services to meet community, family and individual needs. KCR is home to the Volunteer Centre of the Central Okanagan. Dorothee has the privilege of working with non-profit agencies and volunteers throughout the region to support the amazing work they do. She loves sharing stories of organizations and people and welcomes your input to tell these stories. Reach her at 250-860-4911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.