Looking for a healthy hobby? Volunteering at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Victoria could be for you!

This blog post is written by Julia-Anne Morris, Volunteer Victoria’s Youth Programs Manager

What do you think of when you hear the word volunteer? Do you think of making a difference? Developing your own skills? Being happier? According to researcher Allen Klein, “research has shown that people who volunteer live longer.” So, while you are setting your goals, plans, or resolutions for 2014, why not think about your health and how volunteering can support a long and happy life?

At Volunteer Victoria, we have many wonderful non-profit member agencies that have an incredibly wide and diverse pool of volunteer opportunities just waiting for someone like you to find one that suits your needs, goals, and interests. One agency in particular is hoping that you can be the difference in a child’s life, and improve your own life at the same time.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Victoria (BBBSV) is an agency “that has been providing support to local families and helping children in our area reach their full potential for nearly 40 years. Our programs are preventative in nature and rely on the simple principle that each time we pair a child with a mentor, we start something incredible – a life-changing relationship built on friendship, trust and empowerment.” You might have heard of BBBSV, but did you know that they have an In School Mentoring program? I personally didn’t until I started my third year practicum with them. Instantly, I knew that this program was one of the best for a broad spectrum of people wanting to volunteer.

The In School program is a great option for the beginner or experienced volunteer. The volunteer, Big, and elementary school student, Little, spend one hour each week together during the school year. Bigs and Littles spend time on school grounds doing an endless number of fun activities including arts and crafts, reading, sports, baking, games, puzzles, and just chatting. The Littles are referred by their school to the program, ensuring that those kindergartners to grade six students who can truly benefit from the program aren’t missed.

The positive feedback and success stories from both Bigs and Littles who have participated in the In School Mentoring program is endless. One grade three student was matched with a Big Sister after her mother passed away. They met weekly during her elementary years, and then became a community match when she graduated to her next school. Today, the Little is in her 20’s and is still in touch with her Big! The Little says that her Big supported her through school, foster care, university applications and scholarships, and many other aspects of growing up. She told our colleagues at BBBSV that, “My Big Sister has known me longer than any other adults in my life –she truly is like family to me.”

So whether you believe in resolutions or not, now is a great time to jump on the wagon of re-assessing what keeps you healthy, and how you can Start Something Big by volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters.


Where Can Volunteering Take You?

In July 2013, Volunteer Victoria’s Youth Program hosted the first Community Youth Leadership Summit! Part of the week was reflecting on volunteering, the community, and the Summit in the format of a blog post. Melody was one of our awesome participants who put her feelings, thoughts, and ideas into a great blog post for us to share with you! 

Ever wondered how you can take that first step out into your community? Maybe you would like to gain new skills, give back to a meaningful cause or simply get out of the house. No matter what your destination may be, you can use volunteering as a stepping stone towards your ultimate goal. Not only will you learn and grow through new experiences, volunteering can also present you with new opportunities that you may not otherwise have. 

Volunteering can be extremely helpful when you’re searching for employment. It could be a job that you’ve had your eyes on for years but don’t have the qualifications for.  One of the best ways to boost your resume and get ahead of the competition is to volunteer. This will not only reflect positively on you, it will also give potential employers a glimpse what your passions may be. By adding volunteering onto your resume, interviewers will see you as someone who has taken some initiative. You will also gain valuable skills and experiences through your community involvement and this can help you obtain your dream job. 

A handy thing to keep in mind is that employers are more likely to hire a person when they’ve seen samples of their work. Volunteering strategically can help you gain a position in an organization or if you’re just starting a new career, a good way to gain experience is to obtain a volunteer position related to your career field. Volunteering is also a great way to increase your network and discover new jobs that might otherwise be unknown to you. 

The best things in life often happen unexpectedly. Getting to know new people and being in a new environment can give you a different perspective of your community and the world around you. 

Maybe you’ve been volunteering for years and one day you have the opportunity to turn your passion into your career. These can be the most rewarding types of jobs because now you can be paid for doing something that you greatly enjoy. Volunteering is something at can open many new doors and take you to places you have never imagined. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you want to do in life and volunteering might just set you down a whole new and exciting path.


Book Review: The Abundant Non Profit

Volunteering trends vary greatly across the world and what may be true for most other nations is not always true in Canada; like the idea that there is a shortage of volunteers. Canada has the 2nd largest voluntary sector in the world – after the Netherlands – and with more than 12 million volunteers across the country we do not have a shortage of willing participants.

Vantage Point (Vancouver’s Volunteer Centre) has long advocated for the fact that in this continued environment of resource scarcity non profits have to think and behave differently. They believe so strongly in the idea that non profits need to shift our primary focus from allocating financial assets to developing human assets that staff members Colleen Kelly and Lynda Gerty put pen to paper (sorry, fingers to the keyboard) to write their book “The Abundant Non Profit.”  

The book is scattered with wise words and good ideas but if reading non profit management books is not top of your summer ‘to-do’ list, then here are some of the paraphrased highlights.  

  • Non profits cannot always wait for funding to start or finish key projects. Vantage Point believes we must expand our circle of experienced volunteers who can help by breaking down projects into bite sized chunks and getting the work done.
  • While all volunteers are created equal in terms of their value to an organization, some volunteer work is valued at a higher rate of return than others. For example: the value difference between using volunteers to copy newsletters or to build a new website.
  • All volunteers need to have work that meets their learning and engagement needs. Create project options with varying levels of complexity.
  • Create an annual plan for volunteer led and managed projects (and connect them to your strategic goals.) 
  • Integrate volunteers into every level of the organization
  • Turn project and program managers into people managers. One manager can only complete a limited number of projects or program objectives, but a people manager with 40 to 60 volunteers can increase their productivity exponentially.

You can purchase “The Abundant Non Profit” directly through the Vantage Point website or member agencies can sign the book out of the Volunteer Victoria library.


Saluting All Volunteers

Have you every heard that old saying about the weather in March? “In like a lion, out like a lamb.”  Sadly for our neighbours across Northern and Southern Alberta last week  June came “in like a lamb but went out like a lion.” 

While the cost of the flood damage will be calculated in terms of lives lost and impacted, the value of property damage, and confidence shaken, there are also many stories emerging this week that help illuminate, quantify, and qualify the generosity of humans and the resilience of people and communities, the power of volunteers to make a difference, and the need to have volunteer services and infrastructure in place – so that when a call to action is issued volunteers know where to go and how to help.

Municipalities across Greater Victoria have robust emergency response programs that operate quietly behind the scenes year round – making sure that they are ready to respond to any and all types of small and large scale emergencies, to provide training to community members and businesses, and to recruit and train volunteers. Volunteer Victoria and the City of Victoria have a formal plan in place should a volunteer centre be needed in the case of a large scale local emergency. 

In many emergencies, however, the scope of need grows beyond those vital services provided by first responders. Once lives and essential services are safely secured in those early hours and days after an emergency, volunteers are often called upon long-term to help rebuild public spaces and assets. In Calgary more than 2,500 volunteers will be needed over the next two weeks to help revitalize the Calgary Stampede grounds. In Fort McMurray dozens of volunteers worked this last weekend to salvage 1000’s of paper documents and artifacts from their flooded Heritage Park.

In the weeks after an emergency volunteers are often recruited to feed and house families and animals, remove debris, help replant parks and public gardens, support those who have suffered loss, and help rebuild lives and gathering spaces, community and civic centres, and those places that are vital to our culture, our memory making, our economy, and our wellness.

Volunteer Victoria salutes all first responder and community building volunteers this week. Thank you for stepping up to help your neighbours.

If you want to learn more about emergency planning or volunteer opportunities, please contact your local municipal emergency response program. 


It’s Just a Stage…

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum (not the 1966 movie or the stage show featuring Nathan Lane and the musical number “Something Familiar, Something Peculiar…A Comedy Tonight!”) but on the way to the non profit forum – the board table.

Every board tries to be nimble, accountable, and effective and we nearly all turn to some type of tool/process (e.g. the board skills grid) to help us figure out who our board members are, what constituent groups they represent, and what skills they bring to the board table. We also use the grid as a tool to help us with new board member recruitment.

Checking off the boxes on the skills grid is an annual tradition for many nomination committees – one outgoing lawyer replaced by one incoming lawyer, one youth leaves and one youth arrives, gender, age, ethnicity balance – box checked/ box unchecked. But when was the last time your organization revisited and expanded those boxes?

Organizations spend a great deal of time and effort recruiting volunteers. Many organizations spend considerably less time figuring out what a volunteer needs in order to work effectively on their board or to stay on the board past a first term, and what knowledge, behaviours, and competencies will be needed to work effectively with existing board members and help their organization reach their preferred future.

Boards can easily and inexpesively outsource certain tasks that require specific skills (i.e finding a new office or making recommendations for new accounting or information management systems) but can rarely afford the cost of not having effective decision making and good team work around the board table.

Healthy organizational cultures and practices lead to good decision making and confidence around the board table. So, even if your board meetings have never felt like a farce, comedy, or tragedy, please consider the following tips: 

  • Host new board member orientation each year.
  • Invest in on-going evaluation and board member training.
  • Continue to work on team-work.
  • Articulate your values and share the rationale for significant decisions that have an impact on future board members. 
  • Encourage curiosity and openness. 
  • Be prepared to change the box.
  • Ask for help when you need it. 

Stay tuned. Volunteer Victoria will be hosting a New Board Member workshop with Dr. Vic Murray this May.   


A New Year’s Resolution Anyone?

Sarah Norton is a Journalism and Media Communications graduate from the University of Wollongong, Australia. After studying for a semester at the University of Victoria, Sarah fell in love with the place and has recently moved back. She has a great passion for travelling and making a difference through writing, and is excited about being part of the Volunteer Victoria, volunteer team. 

A New Year means a new you, and what better way to begin 2013 than to get involved with volunteering?

With all of the amazing volunteer opportunities Victoria has, sometimes finding the right one can be overwhelming and daunting, which is where Volunteer Victoria can help.

VolWeb is Volunteer Victoria’s volunteer database with a lot of wonderful opportunities to choose from. Initially created to encourage volunteerism and increase access to volunteer opportunities across Canada leading up to and beyond the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, it’s now helping build a legacy that will benefit the community for years to come.

The website allows you to build a network with experienced and enthusiastic volunteers who contribute to the success of local events by connecting people with opportunities at special occasions, from major sporting events and conferences to local festivals, fundraisers and community celebrations. If you would like more information on posting your volunteer opportunities to VolWeb and the many other benefits of being a Volunteer Victoria Member Agency, please give us a call!

To help with your volunteer quest, the incredible Volunteer Victoria team has selected some standout positions and opportunities from the site that they see as valuable learning experiences, or as stepping-stones toward their goals.

Youth Volunteer Connections Program Coordinator, Julia-Anne says, “the staff walks the talk and truly believes in the volunteer experience.”

So here are some of the standout positions they chose:

Access Program Coordinator, Lornna Olson expresses her excitement about all of the great new opportunities coming up on the board! Her current recommendation is Seedy Saturday, which is happening in mid-February. It’s where people bring seeds to trade for other seeds. The event hosts people who are sorting, itemising, dividing and re-bagging seeds, which means they can always use volunteers.

“It’s a great day. I volunteer every year at the seed exchange,” she exclaims.

A great perk if you volunteer is free event entry.

“You can look at all the displays and watch the budding farm maidens flirt wildly with the strapping farm lads!” says Lornna. “For the last two years I’ve accompanied two different clients there for volunteer support. It’s just a safe, fun, and friendly place.”

Youth Support Worker, Julena Breel suggests three amazing volunteer opportunities if you a) love kids, b) love sports, or c) love to mix the two and throw in some camping as well. She highlights the ‘Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor’ opportunity as a must, “because I love kids.” Adding the ‘Special Olympics Victoria BC’ to her list, “because I love sports.” Finally promoting the ‘Easter Seals 24 Hour Relay’, “because sending kids to camp is pretty much my dream job and this is the most fun you’ll have volunteering,” she says.

Finally Julia-Anne tells me that she loves the posting about volunteering as a Fitness Coach for the Victoria Youth Custody Service. “It seems totally fun and hands on!” she says.

It’s an opportunity to coach young offenders in a youth facility on proper use of Universal Fitness Equipment. It’s a long-term commitment, asking for 90-minute sessions once a week for at least 6 months. Training is provided and you gain invaluable experience working with at-risk youth in a custody setting, plus the greatest reward is having a positive impact on a young person’s life.  

Upon perusing the large and diverse database I also came across some gems to share. It was hard to decide which opportunities to pick out because there are so many amazing options.

If you love hockey, then the Macquarie Rink of Dreams is a perfect opportunity offered by the Help Fill a Dream Foundation. It’s a 24-hour hockey event held on March 23rd and 24th at the Bear Mountain Arena. Anyone’s welcome, regardless of their skill level and there’s a Tailgate Party for the whole family afterward. There are 14 different positions available from guest services and event operations to set-up/take-down volunteers.

If learning and social justice are more your thing, the Social Justice Youth Conference are looking for event promotion volunteers. You’ll be responsible for event operations, marketing and PR, event coordination, fundraising, and set-up/take-down. It’s hosted by the Didi Society, inviting youth from across Greater Victoria to participate in a morning of skill-based workshops, followed by networking and sharing in the afternoon. The position requires communications tasks such as contacting the media, inviting guests, presenting at schools, and more. You’re rewarded with full-day conference entry, a Didi Society t-shirt, and invaluable mentorship.

If your passion lies with healthy living and you’re looking for an ongoing project, then Child Health Clinic Volunteering with Prevention Services (VIHA) may be just what you’re looking for. You greet and check in children and their families, complete paperwork, assist with weighing and recording client information, and refer to concerns and questions about children and their parents to the nurses.

Another great ongoing opportunity that will get your creative juices flowing and planning skills into action is with the fun-filled event, Creatively United for the Planet. They’re looking for pre-festival planning committee volunteers, willing to give four hours of their time each week leading up to the event. The opportunity asks for administration, event operations, marketing and PR, fundraising, data entry, and word processing. This is an all-ages art, cultural, and healthy living event to celebrate Earth Week. It raises funds for environmental-based charities, and creates awareness about calling to action for a positive change.

There is literally a volunteer position for everyone and Volunteer Victoria can help you find it, or even create it! So visit the VolWeb site, contact Volunteer Victoria, and start getting excited about all of the amazing ways you can contribute to the community this year! I’m definitely excited to keep writing about them.


Eyes on summer events: Victoria Fringe Festival

The following blog post was written by Graydon Leigh, a political science major at the University of Victoria. Graydon grew up in Port Coquitlam, BC and aspires to be a journalist. He is an avid hockey fan and is honoured to write about volunteerism in the Victoria community.The Victoria Fringe Festival is entering its 26th year of entertaining the public, and you are invited to share in the fun!Comprised of 55 different theatre companies, the Festival takes place over ten days from August 23rd to September 2nd, 2012. I had the privilege of speaking with the event’s volunteer coordinator, Sammie Gough, whose enthusiasm for the event shone with every piece of information she provided.She informed me that a wide variety of performance types will be featured, from stand-up comedians to professional dancers. Talent is in no short supply, setting the stage for a good time to be had by all. Whether you’re already into theatre, or are itching to try something new, the festival has a little something for everyone. Tickets and information for each show can be found online at the Fringe Festival’s official site.The Fringe relies on its 200 volunteers to make the two week event a huge success. The diversity of roles needed in the festival are rewarding and present volunteers with the opportunity to have a total blast.

Tasks will include answering questions asked by patrons, as well as handing out event brochures, buttons, and flyers. Primarily, volunteers are needed to work the box office, where a large amount of attendees are expected to purchase their tickets. The Fringe’s fan base is a fun-loving crowd who holds a distinct passion and love for the offering of talent found at the festival. This feeling is inescapable, making it very infectious for those in attendance during the ten days the event is underway.

If public relations isn’t your thing, perhaps the most unique volunteer opportunity present at the event is for you: volunteers have the ability to assist theatre technicians in the construction of stages. Many non-traditional venues, including churches, are going to be used by festival organizers to stage certain plays and energetic individuals will be needed for stage conversion. This is a prime chance for those interested in stagecraft to gain valuable experience in the field.

The opportunities don’t stop there, as an event dedicated to children, called Fringe Kids, calls for those who have experience working with children to lend a helpful hand. Taking place on Saturday, August 25th, in the market square, Fringe Kids features a bouncy castle and many other kid-friendly activities.

Similarly, students learning English as a second language get to practice their conversational skills with event staff and volunteers. What better way to represent your city and make new friends in the process?

Two free events also offer a unique opportunity to get involved in the Fringe community. The Fringe Square Block Party and Zebra Ball, taking place from 6-9pm on August 21, will require a lot of volunteers to help with the large amount of attendees expected to participate.

If anyone is worried that volunteering at the festival means they will miss some of the shows they are dying to see, have no fear: Fringe bucks are here.

To clarify: volunteers will be rewarded for their efforts with redeemable coupons that entitle them to attend any show they want. More than one Fringe buck can be earned! (Theatre lovers: this is basically a golden ticket!).

If you have any lingering questions you can visit the Fringe Festival’s official website here. If you’ve come to the realization that volunteering with the festival is a blast, you can register over here.

 

Enjoy the magic, and don’t forget to unleash the performer in you!

Introducing Julia-Anne Cameron, Youth Program Coordinator

The following is a guest blog post written and researched by one of Volunteer Victoria’s volunteer writers, Kate Lautens. Kate is ourVolunteer Victoria Media Copy Writer, twitter volunteer extraordinaire and occasional blogger. Kate interviewed Julia-Anne Cameron, Volunteer Victoria’s newest team member and Youth Program Coordinator. We welcome Julia-Anne, her boundless energy and commitment to youth and volunteerism to the Volunteer Victoria team.  Please Enjoy! !

Julia-Anne Cameron’s greatest passions are youth and volunteering, so she could not pass up the chance to apply for the role of Youth Program Coordinator at Volunteer Victoria – and Volunteer Victoria is pleased to say that she was the perfect fit! When Julia-Anne found out she had been selected for the position, she hadn’t even had her official convocation for her undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria. “Seeing a job posting that combined [youth and volunteering], especially one at such an amazing agency like Volunteer Victoria, was a ‘must apply’ in my books,” Julia-Anne says. Now, with her bachelor’s degree in Child and Youth Care in hand, Julia-Anne is ready to take on new challenges with Volunteer Victoria.

She credits her experience at UVic for giving her confidence to take on new experiences. “The School of Child and Youth Care is a phenomenal program that has left me feeling extremely grounded in my practice, at the same time as being very excited to challenge myself,” she says. Her program included one practicum with Big Brothers Big Sister Victoria, as well as a second as a Youth and Family Counselor at a local middle school through the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association. Julia-Anne calls the experiences life changing: “the two experiences…have given me many tools and strategies, including a strong foundation for youth engagement practices through meaningful relationships,” she says.

“I firmly believe in youth, and I firmly believe in volunteering,” Julia-Anne says. In her new position with Volunteer Victoria (which Leanna Hill held until May 2012 when she moved on to become Manager of Training and Outreach), Julia-Anne will be right at home. “I am most excited about getting to know and work with the youth in our community, as well as the many dedicated Member Agencies,” she says. An Oak Bay Secondary Grad, Julia-Anne spent a lot of time working at Recreation Oak Bay as a Team Lead lifeguard and instructor. Although she was born in Vancouver, Julia-Anne moved to Victoria when she was three years old. “I have always thought of this beautiful city as home!”

Julia-Anne understands the importance of the Youth Program in Greater Victoria. “The biggest impact we have on the community is offering youth a safe space for positive engagement,” she says. With over 300 member agencies to choose from, there’s a great opportunity out there for everyone. “We truly work to find a meaningful volunteer position for each youth who comes to see us.”

Julia-Anne’s position is not without its challenges, which she readily acknowledges. “The biggest challenge is going to be the fall,” she says. I have heard it is going to be extremely busy, but I know I can do it with this amazing team at Volunteer Victoria behind me!” Julia-Anne says she’s using the summer months to prepare and organize as much as she can. “Even if it is busy, the fall months will run like a well oiled machine,” she says.

Despite the challenges that may lie ahead, Julia-Anne is looking forward to whatever her role brings. “I love to work with young people because of the energy, the ideas, and the endless possibilities they all have,” she says. “Every person is unique, and being able to facilitate their exploration of individual skills, goals, passions, and interests is something I really enjoy doing.”

The Youth Volunteer Connections Program serves young people 15-29 years old, and supports them in their search for meaningful volunteer positions in Greater Victoria. The YVCP team provides support at any step of a youth volunteer’s journey – from finding a position, to navigating challenges, to celebrating successes. Check out www.volunteervictoria.bc.ca/youth for more information or to set up an appointment to meet with Julia-Anne Cameron or Ebony Logins.


Eyes On Summer Events: Pacific Tattoo Music Extravaganza!

The following blog post was written by Graydon Leigh, a political science major at the University of Victoria. Graydon grew up in Port Coquitlam, BC and aspires to be a journalist. He is an avid hockey fan and is honoured to write about volunteerism in the Victoria community.

The Victoria Military Musical Festival Society is very proud to promote the Pacific Tattoo Music Extravaganza! They are seeking volunteers of all ages who want to participate in a dynamic and refreshing experience. Those that hold a passion for tattoos, or who want to learn more,  are encouraged to lend a hand, as their enthusiasm will be undeniably infectious.

If there is any confusion about what a tattoo is, do not mistake it for the body art that shares its name. However, both forms have one thing in common: Passion.

Performances include drum chord and brass bands, as tattoos are symbolic and indicative of military life. However, these festivals have grown to include a variety of performers ; for example, Chinese dancers have been included and will undoubtedly amaze.

Taking place from July 14th to the 15th at Bear Mountain Arena, the tattoo features a diverse array of performers. Running for 2 hours, it combines aspects of pageantry, music, dance, and comedy. The extravaganza is the biggest indoor show on the island in terms of cast size, all of whom contribute to a stirring event that makes for some good ol’ fashioned, toe tapping fun.  Many of these performers have entertained audiences at the famous Edinburgh Tattoo in Scotland, where the phenomenon grew in popularity.

What’s The Story Behind A Tattoo? The British Military used drummers from their garrisons to have taverns close their taps for the night at 10pm, so that soldiers could return to their barracks during 16th century battles in the Netherlands and Belgium. This innovative military practice birthed the entertaining performance method known as the tattoo.

Sponsored by Canadian Heritage, the Q, the Zone, Chek TV, and the local Times Colonist, among other fine organizations, the event oozes of history and rich tradition.

So far, 70 volunteers have signed up to assist in the proceedings through Volunteer Victoria. Pacific Tattoo is calling for volunteers to act as parking lot attendants, since the event is expected to host large audiences. A general meeting for all volunteers is expected shortly and will provide all participants with a chance to find their bearings among other friendly, fun-seeking individuals.

The tattoo truly adds to the interest of living in Victoria. While the event is in its infancy, being its’ first year, it promises to contribute to the inclusive sense of community advocated by members of the Greater Victoria community. Get in touch with your inner showman or woman, and involve yourself in a collaborative performance unlike any other.

I would like to thank Harry Martin for the knowledge and insight he provided for the completion of this post. My thanks to him and his passion for an event that is new to me.


Operation Trackshoes: Volunteer, be inspired, and make a difference

The following blog post was written by Graydon Leigh, a political science major at the University of Victoria. Graydon grew up in Port Coquitlam, BC and aspires to be a journalist. He is an avid hockey fan and is honoured to write about volunteerism in the Victoria community.

Don’t miss out on your chance to participate in a fun-filled weekend! The non-profit organization Operation Trackshoes is hosting their 42nd annual event and is looking for volunteers to assist and mentor competitors.

This philanthropic endeavour, being held June 8th-10th at Centennial Stadium at UVic, provides people with developmental disabilities a chance to compete against, and with, one another in a wide range of sporting events. All the while being accompanied by volunteers who counsel and integrate them into a wider network of friendly individuals.

 I had a chance to speak with Sandra Otway, a main coordinator of the event. Entering her 14th (or 15th, she’s lost count by now) year, the vast amount of passion she has for the event was evident in her voice; this weekend means so much more than fun and games to those involved.

Sandra has a sister with a developmental disability who is emphatic about competing in the event every year. She represents the group of people affected by this magical weekend. The message advanced by Sandra and Operation Trackshoes is one of equality, and solidarity. These games evoke a sense of reciprocity between competitors and volunteers not commonly found in today’s society.

Through their dedication and will to compete, athletes inspire counsellors in a way their professional counterparts never could. Similarly, volunteers interact and provide competitors with a healthy sense of camaraderie. A buddy system is used as volunteers are assigned to competitors based on their experience and training in the field of persons with developmental disabilities.
 The age of competitors range from middle schoolers to seniors approaching 90 years of life experience. Everyone is invited to enjoy the summer camp atmosphere, as fun and social events are commonplace.

From the meet and greet with fellow participants and volunteers on Friday, which features karaoke and drop in baseball, the University of Victoria’s campus transforms into a beacon of positive energy that doesn’t cease until the closing awards ceremonies on Sunday afternoon.

Some of the events included over the 3-day schedule range from more competitive events including hurdles and relays of a variety of distances and high jump, to competitions focused on fun such as leap frog and sack races. There are even competitions for people with different disabilities, such as wheelchair races.

When I originally heard of this uplifting competition I figured its coordination would require a team of paid staff members to host the event. To my surprise I learned every member on Operation Trackshoes’ board is a volunteer. Not only do they all have demanding full-time jobs, the event demands a full year of planning that requires the board to assemble frequently. This board truly captures the spirit of volunteerism at its most essential level: the dedication of ones time and energy for others.

Sandra informed me that in order for there to be another volunteer orientation prior to the event, she would have to receive a few more volunteer applications by Wednesday, May 23rd.

I encourage everyone to attend the June 8-10, 2012 event to experience first hand the joys made possible by Operation Trackshoes. For more details regarding the event visit http://www.trackshoes.ca. If you want to volunteer for a great cause or simply attend a fun-filled weekend, check it out!





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