| In 1988 an initiative by the Committee for the Promotion of Healthy Aging identified a need for a Volunteer Centre in Campbell River. Jocelyn Skrlac and Fran Pelligrin mapped out a plan and the first Board of Directors was formed in 1989 with incorporation as a Society finalized on July 10th, 1990.
In the early days, the Volunteer Centre consisted of a telephone and an answering machine at the home of President Joan Zamluck. Joan and Board members visited prospective volunteers at their homes to arrange referrals. In 1991 the Centre moved to shared office space on Ironwood, and in 1992 to the basement of Municipal Hall. A move to the Enterprise Centre at 900 Alder gave the Volunteer Centre more space and a visible presence in the community.
The Centre’s early funding was unreliable. Margo Brunt traversed the Great Walk from Gold River to Tahsis to raise funds in 1992 and the Catholic Women’s League was very supportive. The Board secured a Bingo License and a grant from New Horizons paid for equipment and volunteer training. The Society also became a United Way member agency and received its first grant from the Ministry of Social Services. Present day funding includes continued support from Bingo and our own fundraising events throughout the year.
Gail Shaw was appointed Coordinator in 1992, as the centre increased its community profile. Del Hannem was Coordinator throughout the negotiations to move to Municipal Hall and Sally Czabaniuk became Coordinator in the new location. Michelle Zylstra succeeded Sally in November of 1996, and Glenn Turner acted as Executive Director from May 2000 to March 2002. Wendy Wilson became the Volunteer Centre Coordinator from March 2002 – August 2007. Louise Howes was Centre Coordinaotr and then Executive Director from 2007 to 2018 and Aolani Delorme was the Administrative Coordinator from 2011 to 2018. In the fall of 2018, Mary Catherine Williams joined VCR as the Executive Director and Tiesha Schmuland became the Volunteer and Community Engagement Coordinator and then Manager in April 2020. In April 2019, funding from the Government of Canada helped to create an Island-wide Youth Volunteer Program called Youth 2020 Can which was operated by Volunteer Victoria and included 6 sites across Vancouver Island and Powell River . Chloe Valentine and Tiesha Schmuland were the Youth Engagement Workers in the first year. In April 2019, Volunteer Campbell River also began to operate the Senior Support Program (formally Senior Peer Support) to help those in our community 55+ to feel connected and supported. Jean Droesse and then Trudy Parry were the Coordinators of Senior Support. In January of 2020, funding from RBC Youth Launch and the Community Foundation was used to create Brighter Day, a program connecting youth who care to seniors that matter. In July of 2020, VCR began operating the Campbell River Better at Home program which is managed by Trudy Parry with administrative support from Theresa Blackburn. Each Summer, Thanks to a Canada Summer Jobs Grant, we have had the amazing help of summer students. In 2019, Jade Owens joined our team for the summer and in 2020 Sarah Robinson brought her initiative and creativity to VCR. In 2020, additional COVID-19 Funds to support isolated seniors meant we could hire Tyanna Pridge and Jana Madras to help support the staff and serve seniors impacted by COVID-19.
The Volunteer Centre operates with both paid staff and our amazing volunteers that include office admin, volunteer advisor, tech support, and a Board of Directors.
Successful ventures over the years include the Community Income Tax Program, National Volunteer Week, National Tag Day, Brown Bag Lunch meetings, one-day workshops for Volunteer Managers, annual Volunteer and Community Information Fair, monthly newsletters, and the building of a Resource Library.