Joyce Brinkerhoff grew up in a small Alberta town, close to the Rocky Mountains, and her parents raised her to volunteer.
She hasn’t stopped since, making volunteering a family tradition. “Early on we helped my parents volunteer, then I did it on my own, then took my kids and now I take my grandkids,” she said. “Post COVID, my grandkids will likely take me volunteering!”
Before moving to Kelowna with her husband in 1990, Joyce spent two years as a clown in a children’s production which toured the U.S. and Canada. Her animated enthusiasm has been the power and determined drive behind many community initiatives.
“My volunteering is eclectic – with an emphasis in advocacy,” said Joyce. “Mostly in the intercultural area, community-building, international humanitarian projects, my church and school district.
“I’m on the board of Society of Hope which addresses affordable housing. I am president of Global Citizen Events, promoting the United Nations Sustainability Goals. I volunteer at Metro to help with homelessness and was part of the Journey Home Task Force. I also sit on the COLIP (Central Okanagan Local Immigration Partnership) Committee, addressing racism. I work with Hope for the Nations as a Mexico and Ghana director for children’s programs. Locally I also work with Food for Thought, the Harmony Day committee for School District 23 and various other volunteer projects.”
Joyce’s long list of community commitments reflects the importance that she places on volunteerism. “At times I have volunteered to ‘feel useful’ or ‘appreciated’ or ‘give back’ but my deepest motivator is the love of God and how He teaches me to see each person as someone of value and worth and it’s my privilege to serve and be served,” said Joyce.
“Volunteering brings me perspective on issues and life experiences I would otherwise be ignorant of. I will never forget the impact of looking up from serving food at a homeless shelter to see my three-year old asking a very elderly man if he would read her one of her books and to see his face light up as she sat beside him listening intently to him read The Cat in the Hat. At that moment they were loving each other with deep purpose and delight. Genuine humanity.”
“Volunteering brings life, introduces me to wonderful people and gives me purpose beyond my own limited viewpoint. Just do it! Find your passion and volunteer there.”
The VolunteerConnector helps volunteers find their passion and impact areas. To sign up, contact Emily at KCR Community Resources (firstname.lastname@example.org 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.