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An umbrella for corridor volunteers

New project to offer development and training for non-profits

Local volunteer organizers are co-ordinating a new project with the hopes of proving just how vital unpaid work is for the Sea to Sky Corridor. And with results of an initial study in hand, organizers hope to finally get the support they need to encourage and expand volunteerism.

The Corridor Volunteer Project will conduct an assessment of the corridor's voluntary sector, and then create a volunteer development and training program accessible to all non-profit organizations.

"The health of the Sea to Sky Corridor communities depends largely on the vibrancy, capacity, and effectiveness of the local voluntary sector," said Pam Gliatis, co-ordinator of the Sea to Sky Network.

The project's vision is to support community-based organizations, to develop tools to promote meaningful volunteer engagement and to contribute to long-term community wellbeing.

"Even within individual local communities, there is a lack of information about who currently makes up this sector, including who volunteers, who doesn't volunteer, why/why not, and a myriad of other questions," said Gliatis.

The Corridor Volunteer Project is a part of the BC Healthy living alliance's (BCHLA) community capacity building strategy. The BCHLA, in partnership with The Hot Spot and Communities That Care received funding for the project from the Canadian Cancer Society.

Kimberly Armour, who was hired in August to co-ordinate the Corridor Volunteer Project, is on a mission to connect and support community based organizations. As part of the project, Armour, in conjunction with the Hot Spot, will be hosting a regional gathering in Pemberton on Oct. 16.

"The gathering is an open invitation that will host representatives from the Sea To Sky Leadership Forum, community leaders from the Squamish and St'at'imc territory, non-profit organizations, volunteer based organizations and local youth," said Armour.

"We hope to bring groups together to connect and explore what everyone is up to, and how we can build sustainable resilient communities in the region."

The gathering has three main objectives: to provide teaching and learning opportunities to community leaders, to provide resources and tools to community leaders, and to discover what resources and tools are needed to enhance community connections.

"To my knowledge nothing of this nature has happened before. And it's free!" said Armour.

The Corridor Volunteer Project is also designed to promote the Squamish Volunteer Centre at the Hotspot, which exists to develop and support the active participation of volunteers in the community.

The Hotspot grew out of collaboration between the Sea to Sky Freenet Association and the Squamish Volunteer Centre Society. Since its creation in 2004 the Hotspot has successfully provided support to over 50 different non-profit organizations in the corridor.

"Squamish, with the Hotspot has a big advantage because we have a resource spot that we can work from," said Armour.

The regional gathering takes place on Oct. 16, at the Pemberton Community Centre from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.