The Sooke Region is one step closer to our claim as the Volunteer Capital of Canada. With financial support from the Victoria Foundation, the Sooke Region Volunteer Centre Committee (SRVC) has hired a part-time volunteer coordinator.
After reviewing several applications, the SRVC Hiring Committee selected Johanne Thompson as our new volunteer coordinator. Thompson is a Sooke resident and volunteer with several years experience in leadership and volunteer coordination. She is eager to meet the challenges ahead. Thompson will have her work cut out for her to meet the needs of our busy community and fulfill the grant requirements. The volunteer SRVC committee members will also be pitching in to connect with the +160 non-profit groups in the region to further clarify and define community needs.
Hiring Thompson is an exciting development in a story that dates back nearly four years when approximately 50 members of the region identified the need for more volunteer coordination and support.
The SRVC committee was formed in 2010 with the first step to conduct a community survey around how the community envisioned a volunteer centre. The answer was clear: Sooke needed a volunteer centre and the best way to develop it was through small steps dependent on available financial resources. The overall preference was for a self-sustaining entity that wouldn’t compete for the same funds as the organizations it was supporting. In 2011 the SRVC committee applied for a Victoria Foundation grant to design and develop a sustainable volunteer centre. Securing funds and bringing Thompson into the fold is a major achievement.
Our local historian, Elida Peers, provides more history on Sooke’s claim as the Volunteer Capital of Canada. She recalls that in the mid-1980’s the Toronto Star Weekly wrote a feature story on Sooke, holding it up as perhaps the most outstanding example of volunteerism in the country. It featured the Sooke Community Association and how its tremendous volunteer effort made so much possible in the community.
In 2008 one of the judges of Communitieisw in Bloom awarded Sooke high marks for volunteerism and suggested we consider styling ourselves as the ‘Volunteer Capital of BC’. Peers doesn’t known whether other communities in Canada had also given themselves this title, yet she felt it was a wonderful way to align Sooke with other regions that shared a similarly keen and extensive focus on volunteerism. At the 2009 Communities in Bloom conference Sooke was awarded the provincial trophy for community participation.
“Speaking only from my personal point of view,” says Peers, “I think it would be good to be a little light-hearted about this, and have fun with it, embracing any other Canadian community who may welcome visitors with the same title, and enjoy sharing in our good fortune. I personally wouldn’t like to see us tot up points to make sure we beat another Canadian community, laying claim to a serious title to outdo someone else, when we are all trying to accomplish good for our community. To me this would be contrary to the whole purpose of volunteering.”