After several years spent working with causes close to her heart, Pam Snowdon begins settling into her new position as executive director at Volunteer Central.
“I was really, really thrilled and excited to come here,” Snowdon said. “Because of my background, I really value the work of volunteerism and the non-profit sector.
“So for me this is just a culmination – a lot of my experience has been leading me up to this.”
Volunteering has been in Snowdon’s veins since before she was even born as her mother worked as a Cub Scouts leader, and was active with volunteering in her church.
Snowdon credits her passion for volunteerism to the fact that it was a large part of her environment growing up.
“My mother was a very strong volunteer,” said Snowdon. “She was very involved in her church community so she worked all year long doing things in her church communities.”
Snowdon spoke about her mother and her volunteer work with her fellow immigrants.
“When she came to Canada, she immediately involved herself in helping other newcomers with doctor and dentist appointments by interpreting,” said Snowdon. “It’s always been very interesting to me and I try to look for opportunities myself to model those values to my own children.”
Snowdon has several years of volunteer work under her belt that support the Volunteer Central Board of Director’s decision to appoint her as the executive director.
In previous years, Snowdon worked as the executive director at a women’s resource centre in Ontario as well as a program coordinator at a family resource centre.
In addition to being executive director at Volunteer Central, she is also currently working with the Urgent Care cause in Sylvan Lake and is part of the organization committee for the charity golf fundraiser.
Before she began her role as executive director, Snowdon worked at organizations that utilized Volunteer Central’s services and said she appreciated its ease of use for both volunteers and partners.
“I think that it can be frustrating for both the person who wants to volunteer, giving their time and skills, if it (the event) isn’t a good fit, and frustrating for the organization as well,” Snowdon said.
From CentreFest to Shalom’s Spring Gala, Volunteer Central has been a key factor in getting volunteers to help out at several large events all across Central Alberta.
“I get such a kick out of being able to help connect people,” Snowdon said. “It makes me feel like what I do is really worthwhile and is making an impact.
“One of my core values is to do my little bit to help create a culture of philanthropy and caring and I believe that you don’t have to be politically powerful to do that.”
Volunteer Central is a service which connects volunteers to the organizations and non-profits that need them.
“We’re really trying to make it a strong connection to the community, so that other non-profits know that we’re here and that we can help them with those needs,” Snowdon said.
The web site has listings of volunteer opportunities which individuals can apply for so the volunteers are able to specifically choose the causes that are close to their hearts or that they value.
The opportunities range from helping with special events and child care to donations and directors of boards for other non-profits.
Companies and businesses are also an integral part of the organization as they can become partners on the site.
For a nominal fee, they can post listings for available positions or opportunities within their organization or for events.
Currently, the site has 134 listings and according to Snowdon, has 101 partners.
In addition to connecting volunteers with partners, Volunteer Central is also involved with the Volunteer Managers Network by providing training workshops. They plan on launching another series of workshops in the fall.
Some of the workshops that they plan on hosting this fall include volunteer management foundations, event planning, risk management, screening, orientation training and supervision.
“I think we sometimes take volunteerism for granted,” said Snowdon. “We’re dealing with people and the services they’re providing are so valuable. Things like retention, treating people well and showing them what they’re doing is valued is really crucial.”
She added she hopes that more businesses and corporations get involved with volunteer work.
“All of us, in our own everyday sphere, can make an impact on the world around us whether that be through our parenting or volunteering.”
According to Volunteering and Charitable Giving in Canada, a study done by Statistics Canada, Canadians gave, collectively, 1.96 billion hours of volunteer work, which is the equivalent of one million full-time jobs, in 2013.
The study also finds the young (ages 15-19) and middle-aged to elderly (ages 35+) portions of the population are more inclined to volunteer seeing as there is more time to spare with the abundance of free time from lack of full-time jobs or familial responsibilities like raising children or working a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Volunteerism is strong in Canada as a nation and it is very strong in Alberta alone,” said Snowdon.
“I’m just really thrilled to be at Volunteer Central. I’m excited for the potential of this organization and for the impact we can have to build a strong resilient community especially in light of some of the bigger events that are coming up.”