Kashten Wilbur, 12, was busy shovelling snow for seniors in Quesnel on Thursday, Dec. 30. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

Recruiting volunteers a challenge in Quesnel

Local groups are hit or miss at finding people to volunteer

Chatting with most community group organizers in Quesnel, they’ll be quick to bring up a lack of volunteers available to them.

From sports to music to community groups, it seems every organization is looking for more people to help out.

But some groups in Quesnel have been able to continue recruitment through these tough times. Simon Turner from Quesnel and District Rotary said membership at the club is almost at historic highs, and Rotary membership around the world is on the rise as well.

“I think our success is because our focus is on volunteer service – parents signing their kids up for minor sports aren’t thinking about being coaches, organizers, or board members, whereas that’s part of the deal with Rotary,” he said.

Recruiting for minor sports is especially challenging in Quesnel, according to Shelley Mack, the office administrator for Quesnel and District Minor Hockey. She’s been working inside minor hockey for over 20 years.

“It’s definitely harder to get volunteers,” she said, noting she’s the only non-volunteer working for minor hockey.

“We struggle to get volunteers on our executive, to help run minor hockey, we struggle getting coaches, we struggle getting referees. It’s bad.”

Mack said recruiting referees has been especially tough, due to abuse from parents and coaches.

READ MORE: Quesnel hockey referee earns provincial honour

“We really have to try and monitor the people in the stands, which takes another volunteer to deal with,” she said.

“It’s a lot of work. To be a coach there’s so many courses you have to take.”

Minor hockey coaches need to have a criminal record check, and take concussion, coaching, and respect courses to start coaching.

“It’s a lot of time and effort for them, but usually people will step up, because it’s due to their kids,” Mack said, adding that minor hockey has always relied on parents to be volunteers.

“People just don’t volunteer anymore, so sometimes you have to give them a push.”

Three divisions of minor hockey are missing directors for the upcoming season.

Doug Service is the president of the Quesnel and District Seniors’ Society. He said the group has done a good job of converting drop in members to volunteers, then executive members.

“We’re holding our own,” he said.

“We have some younger seniors who have started to fill in some spots for us, so that’s really helpful.”

Service said recruiting in other groups he’s been involved with, like the Quesnel Community Foundation has been a challenge and counts the Seniors’ Society lucky for having the volunteers they do.

“It’s getting them in the building, that’s the biggest thing,” Service said he thought was the key to recruiting volunteers.

“If you find people with the interest and can support them and get them to help you out, then you can get volunteers. It seems to me everybody is in search of more and better volunteers, and there’s only so people going around.”

Turner credited Rotary’s strong position with what he called “perpetual recruitment.”

“We know folks will come and go, simply because life is like that, plus our club is exceptionally well organized, even within Rotary as a whole – we know now who our Club President will be in 2024-25,” he said.

Service suggested a city-wide welcome committee could help recruit newcomers to Quesnel.

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Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com


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