Volunteers are vital to a community

By Tanya Cronin
January 27, 2016 - 4:10pm Updated: January 27, 2016 - 5:50pm

KAMLOOPS — They are often the glue that holds a community together. Volunteers play an integral role in the operation of non-profit organizations, many wouldn't be able to go on without a helping hand. With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer, but the benefits are far reaching and even the smallest tasks, can make a real difference. 

For Angela Dalton, this is what it means to give back. 

"We build houses for people who otherwise couldn't afford to purchase a house, and how much bigger of an impact could you want," says Dalton.

Despite working 40 hours a week between two jobs, at least once a week you can find Angela sorting through merchandise and stocking shelves, at the Habitat for Humanity Kamloops Restore. She's been doing so, for the past 4 months. The cause, near and dear to her heart.

"I work as a community support worker already, so this is just an added layer to that, and gives me a chance to feel like more of a contribution to where I live, and make sure those around us that are less fortunate, have places to live as well."

From new and used furniture, large and small appliances, household goods and building materials, the Habitat for Humanity Restore has it all. Fueled by donated items, and frequented by shoppers looking to support a good cause, 100% of sales goes directly towards building homes for families in need. But the operation wouldn't go ahead, without the 60 volunteers that lend a helping hand.

"We're really fortunate that we have some skilled volunteers here, we have some people on return to work programs, we have kids on training programs for school, we do a lot of different programs that have a lot of different folks come in," says Jan Lingford, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity Restore.

Volunteers are often the life-line of a community. For the past 30 years Volunteer Kamloops has been linking people looking to give back, with an opportunity in the more than 60 non-profits they represent.

"We try and remove the barriers that people have to volunteering. There's so many great people that get out and do volunteering, but there's also so many people that find a reason or multiple reasons why they haven't gotten around to it yet, we remove those barriers for them and help them get connected," says Sarah Ladd of Volunteer Kamloops.

Volunteer Kamloops sees about 250 individuals walk through the doors every year. Over the course of 3 decades, the organization has helped nearly 40,000 people find passion in volunteerism. A passion, that spans an incredible variety of non-profits, and can save lives.  

"We see so many individuals come through the office that maybe have depression, or they're new and feeling scared and they come in and get connected with somebody who can support them in a volunteer opportunity, through all the amazing organizations, and their lives improve," says Ladd.

"They are the heartbeat of our organization, we couldn't exist without them," says Lingford.

From sales, cleaning and sorting, Habitat for Humanity is in need of more helping hands, specifically a handyman, to fix and refurbish appliances and other products. Angela Dalton is hoping people will donate their time, and find it as rewarding as she does.

"They're not expecting you to come in for a full 40 hours a week and be here like it's a job, it's volunteering and it's pretty minimal. For the actual commitment, it's not a lot for a big impact on your community," says Dalton.

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