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National Volunteer Week – How Jennifer Wilson brought her volunteering spirit cross-country

When it was announced that Rogers was opening its new Customer Solution Centre in Kelowna, British Columbia, Jennifer Wilson, Customer Care Team Manager, was up for the cross-country move. An avid volunteer in her hometown of Moncton, New Brunswick, Jennifer was eager to continue giving back to her new home of Kelowna.

“It’s important to us in Kelowna to build a solid relationship with the community here,” Jennifer said. “I helped build that culture in Moncton, and I moved to Kelowna to mirror Moncton’s successful community involvement campaign.”

We sat down with Jennifer to hear more about how the pandemic has taught her about the importance of connections and being involved in the community is a great way to build those connections outside of your household.

Tell us a little bit about the organizations you support. We’d love to hear more about them!

Currently most of my “volunteer time” is actually spent facilitating volunteer opportunities for my colleagues throughout Customer Care, and launching Kelowna’s Give Together volunteer and fundraising campaigns. I’m currently helping to spearhead a competition between all Rogers Customer Solution Centres to see which region can raise the most money for their local food bank, with the goal of raising $9000 across the regions. 

Before relocating to Kelowna, I was involved in a baking group called the Quarantine Baking Club where a group of us baked and individually wrapped baked goods for the bagged lunch program that the United Way was spearheading in Moncton. 

Once COVID-19 hit and schools were shut down, children and families that were served by the schools’ meal programs had no access to breakfasts and lunches anymore. That particular meal program partnered with five agencies to ensure that these vulnerable sectors were fed nutritious meals that were delivered to their neighborhoods. Then, once schools opened up again, the group widened their scope and continued providing meals to local homeless citizens and seniors, and began delivering meals to those living with disabilities. The types of agencies that I volunteer with, and that I encourage partnerships with it, are the ones who provide long-term support and not just provide short-term solutions to long-term problems. 

Once in Kelowna, this last December, I helped shop for and deliver care packages to clients of Mamas for Mamas, an organization that provides support and resources to single-parent homes. 

What inspires you to volunteer and give back to your community?

It was something that was ingrained in me as a kid and was extremely important to my father. Ever since I was young, being involved in our community wasn’t a choice for us, it was just something that was expected we would do. I remember my first time volunteering, I was serving coffee and donuts to veterans after a Remembrance Day parade when I was 7. My first non-babysitting job as a teen was tutoring kids when I was in high school. Now, I volunteer not only because I think it’s a civic responsibility we all have no matter what our station in life is, but also because I’ve been the recipient of a lot of the services non-profits provide and I know from personal experience how impactful it is in the lives of those on the receiving end. 

Do you have any words of encouragement you’d like to share with others who are looking to become more involved with their community?

I would encourage everyone to find a way to contribute to their communities using something they love doing. Like to garden? Donate some of your fresh produce harvested from your garden to a food bank. Are you a reader? Many nursing homes and hospitals are still accepting volunteers to read to seniors and children. Love to crochet or knit? NICUs across the country have patterns that you can use to create hats and mitts for infant patients. Love to build websites? Non-profits everywhere are strapped for cash and would love to put your networking and social media skills to great use. Lead a busy life and realistically can’t give any of your time? No problem, because monetary donations are important now more than ever.