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KCR: Volunteers SHARE fulfillment and joy

These columns are contributed by the KCR Community Resources

In the 1970s, Vietnamese people were fleeing their homeland and came to Canada through the refugee system to forge new lives for their families.

Their arrival spurred community-minded Lionel Wace to call out to others in Kelowna to donate or share whatever provisions they were willing to gather in order to ensure that these newcomers had what they needed upon arrival.

The Kelowna and District SHARE Society grew spontaneously from these humble beginnings into a small but energetic community institution that aids local people in need.

Program coordinator Heather Markotoff recently let us know she is looking for a variety of volunteers to be a part of this amazing organization that for more that 47 years has been working to uplift the community.

“Volunteers are a huge part of SHARE,” explains Heather. “They make a positive impact to the store, the staff and the customers.”

With a variety of positions available, Heather ensures the commitment and schedule is determined with the needs of the volunteer in mind.

“We have people new to Kelowna who are wanting to learn English, as well as students and retirees, who want to give back,” explained Heather. “We have a new area to volunteer – our Tee-Tote Projects. This is for people wanting to learn a new skill or for those who know how to sew. They come book time in our project room and help us create Tote Bags out of donated T-shirts.”

Heather is also looking for volunteers to help sort and organize books, clothing and jewelry for the Thrift Store and to help at the Vintage Markets that SHARE has been participating in.

The organization is also looking for people who have retail experience to mentor program participants in learning the trade as they develop valuable skills that will help them achieve secure employment. Volunteers with “handy, fix-it” skills are also needed to help with program supports and will help

Heather, who grew up in Richmond, moved to Kelowna in 1998. A mom of four, Heather is an avid crafter of all different kinds of crafts.

She started working at SHARE five years ago because she knew about the positive impact the organization makes first-hand.

All of the money raised through the thrift store go directly to the programs the society operates to support people.

SHARE’s programs include the Community Assistance Program which in the past year more than 680 households benefited from the material goods that SHARE offers in partnership with over 30 social service agencies in the region.

There is also the Details of Retail Introductory Program, or D.R.I.P. This skills training program offers a more structured approach to learning about retail has been offered in-house since 2017, an innovative and collaborative approach to providing employment preparation and individualized support to those with diversabilities.

Two other programs that support participants prepare for employment is the Transition to Employment (T.E.P.), which offers training to those experiencing challenges to employment and the Community Service Work program to help people complete volunteer hours that have been court appointed.

“I was drawn to SHARE because I used to shop here when my children were little,” said Heather. “It was a huge help to me as I raised my kids on a limited income.

“Volunteering brings people together and provides fulfillment and joy to those working together. It is great to see the energy and excitement that volunteers bring when they come to SHARE.”

If you are interested in joining the SHARE team, reach out to Heather at

Dorothee Birker is the communications & development manager for KCR Community Resources.