Zosia Ettenberg is one of the co-chairs of a new task force charged with forming a new volunteer bureau in Langley.

New volunteer bureau taking shape for Langley

A few bodies are still needed to help form a fledgling organization for Langley volunteers.

A new volunteer organization is in the making for Langley, and Aldergrove’s Brad Nastiuk and Fernridge’s Zosia Ettenberg are anxious to trumpet those plans heading into national volunteer week.

“The people of Langley volunteer a lot and it’s so rewarding to see,” said Ettenberg, who has agreed to co-chair the new organization with Nastiuk.

For almost three years now, the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce has been hosting bi-annual seminars for not-for-profit chamber members – tackling such topics as volunteer recruitment, legal responsibilities, and next week’s workshop on April 14 delves into the new BC Societies Act.

“One of the things that came up again and again is that Langley is a great community with many people willing to give their time to help,” Ettenberg said.

With an average of 30 to 50 people attending these chamber-hosted seminars, the chamber directors learned of some of the key issues facing non-profits – volunteers being the most prevalent.

“We would have some major events and each one would go through a huge recruiting drive to obtain the needed volunteers for their event, and once the event was over the volunteers would disappear back in the woodwork for the next event to have to go through the same process a little later. Then there were the smaller groups that needed a few volunteers at various different times,” Ettenberg explained.

“The chamber encouraged us to explore this issue and provided help to identify the need in the community,” said Ettenberg, who agreed to co-chair a task force with Nastiuk.

“Once the need was established we were encouraged to form a task force which at the present time consists of 15 people from various organizations in the community including a councillor from the City and one from the Township,” said Ettenberg, who is representing Langley Pos-Abilities and Nastiuk from St. John’s Ambulance.

Surveys were completed and lengthy discussions were held with several local non-profits during the past year to examine the possible necessity for a separate entity – a local volunteer bureau.

The task force has returned with its verdict.

It was a resounding “yes,” Ettenberg explained, noting the wheels were set in motion in February to form a new volunteer bureau – separate from the chamber.

With at least a year of research and work ahead, the hope is to have a business plan in place by the end of 2016, and an officially launch for the new entity in about a year’s time, Ettenberg said, crediting First West Credit Union’s Envision Financial with playing a huge role in the task force and now the impending formation of the bureau.

Envision Financial is “pleased” to be a part of a founding group of volunteers, working alongside community leaders from various local non-profit groups including the Township of Langley and the City of Langley, said Susan Byrom, senior manager of community investment at Envision Financial.

“The Envision Financial team believes strongly in developing leaders through volunteer activities and lending our expertise to support our local communities. By working as a collaborative partner to establish Langley Volunteers, we’re helping to make a positive and meaningful difference in our communities and playing an important role in building an infrastructure that encourages, supports and connects enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers with local charitable agencies. We’re thrilled to be a part of this important community initiative,” Byrom added.

“We named our ‘new baby’ Langley Volunteers,” Ettenberg explained.

But, what this group will actually look like, how it will be structured, how it will be funded, whether it will be a brick-and-mortar location or a web-based entity, how it will function, what are its physical boundaries, and who will be involved – all those details are still to be worked out, Ettenberg said.

“There’s a lot of work to do,” she added, noting that the task force is still hoping to recruit at least five more individuals to help with the job ahead.

“We are looking for a few more members, but we would like to stress that this is a working task force with the end result of creating a volunteer bureau, with a business plan and a solution to get funding to run it and a structure for governance,” Ettenberg concluded.

Anyone interested is invited to email Ettenberg at zosia@telus.net.

 

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