A contest celebrating local volunteers has recognized Mar Grantham for her work with Powell River Immigrant Services Society. The Volunteer Appreciation Giveaway, organized by First Credit Union, Powell River and District United Way and Volunteer Powell River, asked residents to nominate those in the community who deserved acknowledgement for their unpaid work.
“Volunteers are heroes that lift up the many communities that we have here in Powell River and the qathet region,” said Volunteer Powell River coordinator Jayde Bazinet.
The prize package includes a donation of $500 to a local charity or non-profit organization of the winner’s choice, as well as advertising space in the Peak. Grantham chose for her donation to go to the Powell River Professional Fire Fighters Charitable Society and the ad space to be used in promotion of the group. The firefighters non-profit society raises funds to support other local charities and purchase necessary emergency equipment. It also had a program that provides food to local schools.
“I’ve asked for the $500 to be designated in its entirety to [the foundation’s] school lunch programs,” said Grantham. “My heart is where the kids are.”
Grantham’s volunteer work with the immigrant society has included helping to mentor Syrian refugee Rania Chakkl in starting her own hummus business.
“I’ve got lots of years of experience in business and because of her limited English it was very difficult for her to get the business started,” said Grantham. “There’s a lot of paperwork when it comes to starting a business in Canada.”
Today, Chakkl’s hummus is sold throughout the community.
“She’s become very successful in her little town and works very hard,” added Grantham. “I’m very proud of her.”
Grantham said volunteering with the society has been an extremely rewarding experience and she recommends everyone considers giving back in their community.
“I would encourage anybody who is thinking about volunteering to try it out,” she said. “Do something you truly enjoy, that benefits either a group of people or an individual. That way it becomes a win-win.”
Many opportunities exist locally, said Bazinet, and it is important to celebrate the achievements and contributions of those who often work behind the scenes.
“There are so many diverse communities that are within Powell River and qathet [Regional District] and so many volunteer opportunities that happen here,” she added. “We want to do our best to recognize that because so often the humblest people do the greatest work.”