YMCA of Okanagan National Volunteer Week

Volunteering has a direct impact on the lives of Canadians — whether it is teaching and supporting children, helping Canadians live healthier lives, or giving companionship. According to Statistics Canada, research suggests that volunteerism contributes to “social cohesion” or “social capital”, through creating social trust, reciprocity and a sense of belonging in communities.

This week, YMCA’s across Canada are celebrating National Volunteer Week from April 15 – 21 and raising awareness around the value of volunteering.

“When Canadians volunteer, everyone benefits,” says YMCA of Okanagan CEO Sharon Peterson. “That’s the magic of volunteering. We are truly blessed by our 374 volunteers, who contributed their time and talent to the YMCA of Okanagan’s efforts in 2017.  They have had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of children, individuals and families in our community.”

For Bryan Wentworth, the Y’s staff and volunteers have become a second family.

“My life has changed a lot since being a part of the Y,” says Wentworth. “I have met many people here. It is good to have relationships with others — to have friends and co-workers. It is like a family, but at the same time professional.”

Wentworth has been a dedicated volunteer at the YMCA of Okanagan for over 13 years.

“From volunteering, I gain strength in my abilities; it is just amazing what I can do,” explains Wentworth. “I learn something new every time I come here. My family also thinks its great. They are really proud of me.”

A previous staff member from Communitas Supportive Care Society — a community network Bryan is involved in — encouraged Bryan to get involved with the YMCA and he has been there ever since.

“I started coming to the Y at the end of 2005 with Lorie and came every single day to swim 30 laps,” Wentworth says. “Ever since then, it has been absolutely wonderful.”

Shortly after his first visit, Wentworth joined the Member Services team as a volunteer, and over the years, has contributed in many ways including giving tours, ensuring clean facilities, greeting members, and he will soon be going back to his aquatic roots by learning to become an aquatics volunteer.

“I enjoy swimming,” says Wentworth. “It is a passion of mine. It is going to be an adjustment, but volunteering is a great experience. It is good for you, healthy, and you gain strength. I just like being here and working.”

Wentworth is also looking forward to helping children learn and grow. He explained that ever since he became an uncle, he has realized his interest in helping children reach their potential.

In addition to honoring its volunteers during volunteer week, the YMCA of Okanagan will be continuing their celebration of volunteers — along with long-time staff and 2017 achievements — at their Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 beginning at 5:30 p.m. All community members interested in joining the celebration are welcome.

Learn more about becoming a volunteer with the YMCA of Okanagan at ymcaokanagan.ca/volunteer.