This article is from the November 2016 Issue of Forever Young

 2016 November Volunteer

 Kelowna Art Gallery volunteer Eva Carr (right) with Kelsie Balehowsky, former gallery assistant.

Walking into the Kelowna Art Gallery, it’s hard not to notice the genuine, warm smile of Eva Carr, one of the many volunteers who help ensure all of their special events and exhibit openings run smoothly. 

“I’m not an artist, but I’ve always loved art,” said Eva, “so volunteering at the art gallery seemed like a natural fit.”

Eva first started at the gallery as one of their docents, responsible for leading school children through tours of the exhibits and then helping them create an art project based on the exhibit they can take home with them. Touring the children requires fresh training for each new exhibition so docents can explain the art to the children and, hopefully, answer all of their questions. Do they stump her sometimes? Eva laughed, “I tell them, you can ask anything you want and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out.”

She first started volunteering with the Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George and helped it transition into its new home before moving to Kelowna with her husband in 2003.  “His health wasn’t good and I didn’t really have the time to commit then” she said, but after he passed away and she began looking for something to add a little more meaning to her life, she remembered how much she’d enjoyed volunteering and approached the Kelowna Art Gallery where she now volunteers regularly both as a docent and special event helper.

Shifting from Arts to Sports, meet volunteer Roy Gillespie. A physiotherapist working out of Aspire Health and Fitness, Roy was bitten by the volunteer bug at a very early age. “My parents got me into it,” he said. “I played competitive basketball and my Dad said it would be good to volunteer as a referee so I could understand all aspects of the sport and then I did some volunteering through our church with my Mom.”

It was while attending Dalhousie University that Roy got go see firsthand what a big difference volunteering could make in the lives of others. Wanting to play on the Halifax Men’s League’s senior A team, he met a man named Terry Symonds. “He was one of my greatest mentors,” said Gillespie, “and he told us that, in order to be part of our basketball team, we had to volunteer,” so they started up a late night basketball league in the roughest area of town to get kids off the street. From there, Roy went on to volunteer at both Dalhousie and St. Mary’s universities tending to soccer, basketball and hockey players.

Roy discovered that volunteering was a hard habit to break – one he didn’t want to, so after moving to the Okanagan, he started helping out at events such as figure skating competitions, provincial karate, and countless different sports tournaments. He’s also volunteered with the national freestyle ski team and most notably, the Okanagan Sun football team where is he has been a huge part of the team’s success for the past 15 years.

“It feels good to give back to the community,” said Roy.

As the former CHBC weatherman for several decades, Mike Roberts was an easy target for those looking for a charismatic volunteer to emcee their events. “When you’re in the (media) business, people phone and tell you their stories,” said Roberts, “and then you realize, hey, maybe I can help them.”

For Roberts, his foray into volunteering started when asked to host a fundraising golf tournament in the North Okanagan. Fast forward through the following 25 years and you’ll see that Mike has been called on to emcee events ranging from United Way fundraisers to distinguished alumni awards at Okanagan College, food bank fundraisers to the Heart of Gold events. He’s also been called on to do 20 years of telethons and is currently Campaign Ambassador of the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizon campaign. Indeed, he has put in so many volunteer hours that he’s been recognized with both the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award and its successor, The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, and many other awards.

Of all the reasons to volunteer, Forever Young’s publisher Steven Tuck seemed to have the most unusual answer: “Because I’m selfish,” he replied. While many would think that was completely backwards, Tuck explained with a hand over his heart, “I’m selfish because I get so much personal satisfaction in seeing what a difference volunteering can make.”

Steven first got roped into volunteering at a Sunshine Dream for Kids volunteer leadership meeting.  He had arrived in town and the Overwaitea store manager, Rick Catto  said, “Why don’t you come with me to a meeting tonight,” recalled Steven, “and on the way there, he told me they were looking for a new president.”  The rest as they say, is history!

For the next 15 years, Steven worked with some other enthusiastic people who came up with the idea of Wendy’s Dreamlift Day. The endeavour grew into the largest one-day fundraising event in Canada for Sunshine Dreams for Kids, with all the money collected used to help fulfill wishes of B.C. Interior’s children with life-threatening illnesses and severe physical disabilities and fund a planeload out of Kelowna to Disneyland every two years.  

Steven also became the Founding President of the Okanagan University College Foundation, which subsequently morphed into the Okanagan College Foundation; building a team which, among other things, procured the largest single donation ever given to a college in BC. ($2.5 million) and for many years has given out $1 million a year in scholarships and bursaries. “When students hug you and say, ‘Without this money I could not have finished my schooling this year,’ then you know just how important fundraising and volunteering as a part of those efforts is,” said Steven, adding, “It changes lives.”

For Tuck, he said, “There’s a great sense of personal satisfaction gained from the teams we built and what we were able to accomplish.”

Steven continues to  volunteer as a Director of the Central Okanagan Foundation and Kelowna Chamber Music.

“My friend Albert Baldeo used to say of volunteers that, we are just ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things,” said Steven. And although, like Mike Roberts, he has been awarded such honours of recognition as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal and recently, the newly created National Honour, The Sovereign’s Medal, he chuckled and said, “neither of us do it for the medals – if we were doing it for medals we wouldn’t have had to work so hard.”

On a more serious note, Steven said, “To me, my goal in life was to make sure that somewhere along the way, when I got toward the end, that I’d be able to face two people – the guy in the mirror shaving and God, and that I’d be able to say that, along the way, I had made a difference.”  Of course, the real sense of achievement comes when that continues as a legacy, when the team continues the good work on into the future.

One thing all four volunteers suggest is that the best route into volunteering is to find something you’re passionate about. Then, prepare to be amazed at the wonderful people you’ll meet along the way and the immense amount of personal satisfaction you’ll receive by giving from the heart and knowing that you’re helping make the world a better place. 

There are lots of organizations throughout the Southern Interior of B.C. looking for volunteers.  We hope these stories encourage you to reach out and be a philanthropist with your time!

 

Walking into the Kelowna Art Gallery, it’s hard not to notice the genuine, warm smile of Eva Carr, one of the many volunteers who help ensure all of their special events and exhibit openings run smoothly.  “I’m not an artist, but I’ve always loved art,” said Eva, “so volunteering at the art gallery seemed like a natural fit.” Eva first started at the gallery as one of their docents, responsible for leading school children through tours of the exhibits and then helping them create an art project based on the exhibit they can take home with them. Touring the children requires fresh training for each new exhibition so docents can explain the art to the children and, hopefully, answer all of their questions. Do they stump her sometimes? Eva laughed, “I tell them, you can ask anything you want and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out.” She first started volunteering with the Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George and helped it transition into its new home before moving to Kelowna with her husband in 2003.  “His health wasn’t good and I didn’t really have the time to commit then” she said, but after he passed away and she began looking for something to add a little more meaning to her life, she remembered how much she’d enjoyed volunteering and approached the Kelowna Art Gallery where she now volunteers regularly both as a docent and special event helper. Shifting from Arts to Sports, meet volunteer Roy Gillespie. A physiotherapist working out of Aspire Health and Fitness, Roy was bitten by the volunteer bug at a very early age. “My parents got me into it,” he said. “I played competitive basketball and my Dad said it would be good to volunteer as a referee so I could understand all aspects of the sport and then I did some volunteering through our church with my Mom.” It was while attending Dalhousie University that Roy got go see firsthand what a big difference volunteering could make in the lives of others. Wanting to play on the Halifax Men’s League’s senior A team, he met a man named Terry Symonds. “He was one of my greatest mentors,” said Gillespie, “and he told us that, in order to be part of our basketball team, we had to volunteer,” so they started up a late night basketball league in the roughest area of town to get kids off the street. From there, Roy went on to volunteer at both Dalhousie and St. Mary’s universities tending to soccer, basketball and hockey players. Roy discovered that volunteering was a hard habit to break – one he didn’t want to, so after moving to the Okanagan, he started helping out at events such as figure skating competitions, provincial karate, and countless different sports tournaments. He’s also volunteered with the national freestyle ski team and most notably, the Okanagan Sun football team where is he has been a huge part of the team’s success for the past 15 years. “It feels good to give back to the community,” said Roy.   As the former CHBC weatherman for several decades, Mike Roberts was an easy target for those looking for a charismatic volunteer to emcee their events. “When you’re in the (media) business, people phone and tell you their stories,” said Roberts, “and then you realize, hey, maybe I can help them.” For Roberts, his foray into volunteering started when asked to host a fundraising golf tournament in the North Okanagan. Fast forward through the following 25 years and you’ll see that Mike has been called on to emcee events ranging from United Way fundraisers to distinguished alumni awards at Okanagan College, food bank fundraisers to the Heart of Gold events. He’s also been called on to do 20 years of telethons and is currently Campaign Ambassador of the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizon campaign. Indeed, he has put in so many volunteer hours that he’s been recognized with both the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award and its successor, The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, and many other awards.   Of all the reasons to volunteer, Forever Young’s publisher Steven Tuck seemed to have the most unusual answer: “Because I’m selfish,” he replied. While many would think that was completely backwards, Tuck explained with a hand over his heart, “I’m selfish because I get so much personal satisfaction in seeing what a difference volunteering can make.” Steven first got roped into volunteering at a Sunshine Dream for Kids volunteer leadership meeting.  He had arrived in town and the Overwaitea store manager, Rick Catto  said, “Why don’t you come with me to a meeting tonight,” recalled Steven, “and on the way there, he told me they were looking for a new president.”  The rest as they say, is history! For the next 15 years, Steven worked with some other enthusiastic people who came up with the idea of Wendy’s Dreamlift Day. The endeavour grew into the largest one-day fundraising event in Canada for Sunshine Dreams for Kids, with all the money collected used to help fulfill wishes of B.C. Interior’s children with life-threatening illnesses and severe physical disabilities and fund a planeload out of Kelowna to Disneyland every two years.   Steven also became the Founding President of the Okanagan University College Foundation, which subsequently morphed into the Okanagan College Foundation; building a team which, among other things, procured the largest single donation ever given to a college in BC. ($2.5 million) and for many years has given out $1 million a year in scholarships and bursaries. “When students hug you and say, ‘Without this money I could not have finished my schooling this year,’ then you know just how important fundraising and volunteering as a part of those efforts is,” said Steven, adding, “It changes lives.” For Tuck, he said, “There’s a great sense of personal satisfaction gained from the teams we built and what we were able to accomplish.” Steven continues to  volunteer as a Director of the Central Okanagan Foundation and Kelowna Chamber Music. “My friend Albert Baldeo used to say of volunteers that, we are just ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things,” said Steven. And although, like Mike Roberts, he has been awarded such honours of recognition as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal and recently, the newly created National Honour, The Sovereign’s Medal, he chuckled and said, “neither of us do it for the medals – if we were doing it for medals we wouldn’t have had to work so hard.”  On a more serious note, Steven said, “To me, my goal in life was to make sure that somewhere along the way, when I got toward the end, that I’d be able to face two people – the guy in the mirror shaving and God, and that I’d be able to say that, along the way, I had made a difference.”  Of course, the real sense of achievement comes when that continues as a legacy, when the team continues the good work on into the future.  One thing all four volunteers suggest is that the best route into volunteering is to find something you’re passionate about. Then, prepare to be amazed at the wonderful people you’ll meet along the way and the immense amount of personal satisfaction you’ll receive by giving from the heart and knowing that you’re helping make the world a better place.  There are lots of organizations throughout the Southern Interior of B.C. looking for volunteers.  We hope these stories encourage you to reach out and be a philanthropist with your time!