Jeanette Megens

KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

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

There are many types of volunteering.

One of them is simply being willing to share your story to help build understanding.

The Volunteer55 Ambassadors are volunteers in the community with a variety of organizations and they volunteer with KCR to tell their stories and build awareness of volunteerism in the community.

Jeanette Megens first started volunteering at the age of 12 with her local 4H Club in Dawson Creek. She hasn’t stopped since.

Having lived in Kelowna for almost 50 years, she has shared her commitment with a variety of organizations and made such a huge impact that she won a Governor General’s Award for Volunteerism in 2018.

“I want to make the world a better, more equitable place for all our future generations,” said Jeanette.

“I have and am still volunteering in clubs and organizations like Rotary, Central Okanagan Poverty and Wellness Strategy, Canadian Federation of University Women, Central Okanagan Retired Teachers Association, BC Teachers Federation, BC Interior Jazz Festival to raise money to build buildings at universities and to raise money for causes like cancer, the Red Cross, The Kidney Foundation, Heart & Stroke and more.”

For Jeanette, volunteering enriches her life and keeps her actively engaged with the community.

KCR is fortunate to have so many people willing to share their experiences, both as volunteers and as newcomers to Canada.

In 2015, the government of Canada announced a commitment to address the Syrian refugee crisis by committing to bring 25,000 refugees to Canada.

Our country is in need of newcomers to meet growing economic and worker demands, so opening our borders was a humanitarian commitment that ultimately benefits Canada in many ways. In the Central Okanagan, we have welcomed over 380 individuals (85 families) through the refugee resettlement process.

Some came through community volunteer sponsorship groups and some came through the government assisted refugee program. All of them were supported in some ways by community members who volunteered to help them settle in their new country and all of them have enriched our community by being here.

In recognition of World Refugee Day coming up on June 20, 2021, we wanted to highlight the volunteers who were willing to share their stories to help build awareness and understanding of the roads they had travelled to call Canada home.

In 2016, with the support of UBC professor Denise Kenney and creative and critical studies students, we were able to interview and film some of these families. We remain grateful for their trust and willingness to let us share their stories.

Taaloo Zorouna, Arabic for “Come Visit With Us,” is a series of short video interviews with Syrian refugees and reflects the importance of being social to Syrians, and acts as an invitation to get to know our new neighbours.

We invite you to get to know them by viewing their stories on our KCR Community Resources YouTube Channel.

Dorothee Birker is the communications and development coordinator for KCR Community Resources. You can contact Dorothee Birker at 250-860-4911 or email dorothee@kcr.ca.

Volunteer