VOLUNTEERS � THE HEART OF CENTREPOINT by Lq8sz3CE

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									               VOLUNTEERS – THE HEART OF CENTREPOINT
                    Volunteer Recognition Luncheon
                           January 23, 2007

Thank you. What a pleasure it is to be here with all of you today – it‟s like old home week.
I know many of you in the room, but for those of you who I haven‟t met, you‟ve likely seen
me in the reception area of Centrepoint. My smiling face was there for over 3 years and
then Sandy tells me he got tired of seeing me every time he came in the office so I was
relegated to the storage room. Hey Sandy….I‟m baaaak!
I am so honoured and humbled to be asked to share my experience of being a volunteer
with Centrepoint. It‟s quite amazing how much experience and expertise is in this room
today. Thank you all for the contributions you have made to Centrepoint – you are part of
the success of this wonderful organization and I‟m delighted to be part of the volunteer
team – the heart of Centrepoint.
Like many of you, I have volunteered for a variety of organizations over the years, in many
roles – everything from helping out in casinos and bingos to carrying around a scoreboard
at a professional golf tournament. I have to say I have never enjoyed a volunteer role as
much as I have with Centrepoint. It‟s one of those things where instead of saying “I have
to do something; I have to go to a meeting, I have to….. I find myself saying…..”I get to do
this; I get to work with talented professionals…..lucky me, I get to do so many things.
When I moved to Calgary in 1998 one of the first things I did was set up an appointment
with Cindy Lavalley and Ann Lewis. I had heard so much about the Centre as it was
called back then I couldn‟t wait to find out more and see if it was a good fit. I was hooked
within a few minutes, saw the wide scope of volunteer activities I might get involved with
and have never looked back.
A few months ago when I was visiting an organization in Edmonton I saw a quote from
Margaret Mead on a plaque – it‟s one we‟ve all likely seen or heard before – but its one
that reminds us that it‟s all about making a difference…..
        ”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change
        the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”
Centrepoint has provided a powerful venue for all of us to make a difference, develop our
potential and contribute to the community.

As I was thinking back to the 10th anniversary celebration last year I started to reminisce
about all the opportunities I‟ve had with CentrePoint to give back to the community as well
as receive so many personal rewards. So in honour of the ten plus fantastic years that
Centrepoint has been a special part of our community and the non-profit sector, I came up
with my top ten list of benefits of being involved – the things I got to do as a volunteer.
There is no way I can share these in any particular order – every element of my
involvement has been a #1 – top experience.

#1: Centrepoint Staff: as volunteers are the heart of Centrepoint, so are the fantastic
staff the soul. They are passionate about their work, they provide excellent support to the
volunteers and truly add to the enjoyment of the volunteer experience. I want to take this
opportunity of thanking all the Centrepoint staff for their encouragement, support, humour
and commitment – while I‟ve worked most closely with James, Judy, Nancy and Trudy
over the years, I realize that everyone has played their own role in ensuring that all


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volunteer activities with Centrepoint have been positive. I often hear from my colleagues
how impressed they are with the consistent outstanding partnership they have with the
staff. So thank you all.

#2: Strengthening Community:           We all have a responsibility to build community
capacity. What better way than to be involved with Centrepoint. How often have you
wondered how the dedicated staff and volunteers of the thousands of non-profit
organizations in our communities are effectively able to support their mission and vision.
The core values of caring, giving and sharing that are so much a part of Centrepoint help
us as volunteers to support organizations facing challenges with innovative, customized,
cost effect solutions. It‟s one of the easiest ways that we can strengthen community.
And it sure makes your heart feel good to know that you‟ve been able to do something so
valuable.

#3: Working with great colleagues: It has been a real joy to work with colleagues,
familiar and new, who have a tremendous passion for what they do. Over my many years
in the sector, I have had the joy of meeting and working with hundreds of dedicated
staff/volunteers and professional colleagues.           Centrepoint has provided me with
outstanding opportunities to meet a diverse group of amazing people – people with heart,
people skilled in what they do…. I‟ve built dozens of new relationships, both personal and
professional over the years. I have learned from all of them and know that their shared
expertise has enabled me to do things in this sector I might not otherwise have been able
to do. They are hard-working, committed, supportive and a great resource in so many
ways. I was particularly honored to receive the Centrepoint gold pin award a few years
ago….with so many deserving volunteers, I couldn‟t quite believe I had been chosen for
this special recognition. It‟s like having a job you like so much it‟s hard to believe you get
paid. I‟ve also enjoyed many fun times and had deep discussions over a glass or two of
wine along the way. Since I recently moved away from Calgary and have embarked on a
new stage of my life, I feel blessed to have kept in touch with many true friends and
colleagues that I have made through Centrepoint activities.          In fact, before we even
moved to our new home in Summerland I had coffee and a great visit with another
Centrepoint colleague – Richard Simpson and his wife Joanne. They are now good
neighbours in that community.
Another recent opportunity – just last week – reinforced the full circle aspect of being
involved with Centrepoint. One of my most rewarding assignments was working with
Friends of Seniors Foundation as part of the Fund Development Plus program. Through
that partnership I had the good fortune of working with a wonderful team, one of whom was
Judy McVean. Subsequently Judy left Friends of Seniors and joined the community
investment team at Petro-Canada, a strong supporter of Centrepoint – in fact, sponsor of
this lunch today – thank you Hazel and Judy. This provided an interesting dynamic – I had
gone from a mentoring role, coaching her how to raise funds to speaking with her about
investments on behalf of organizations I‟m working with. A strong reminder to maintain
those valuable connections you make through Centrepoint….and not to burn any bridges!
We then had the opportunity of delivering a training session together last week at
Centrepoint. I know that our paths will continue to cross.

#4: Sharing expertise – so often we don‟t realize what talents and expertise we have to
share. We sometimes take it for granted. One of the many rewards I‟ve had through my

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association with Centrepoint is truly feeling valued for what I can offer. Whether doing a
consultation, participating on a committee, delivering training or just responding to a phone
call from someone – it makes you feel like you‟re part of a very special team. What could
be more rewarding than to see the light bulbs go on in one of your training sessions when
a participant truly „gets it‟ and is eager to go back to their office and tackle one of those
challenges with new information and renewed energy. It‟s wonderful to hear back from
session participants what they‟ve been able to do and how a few hours might have given
them the boost along with the confidence to try something new or differently.

#5: Being part of a special team: Centrepoint has developed a unique model…..one
that is envied across the country…., to deliver a variety of services. Everyone wants to be
associated with success and excellence. As volunteers, we are all fortunate to be part of
this special team, one that is visionary and progressive. We know the challenges facing
the non-profit community and we know that the programs developed and delivered through
Centrepoint are truly having a positive impact on the sector in our community. We are
part of a team that enables members of the sector to access knowledge, develop best
practices, gain new management tools, add to their skills, upgrade their information
systems and enhance their organizations with specialized programs.

#6 – Connecting with Community
My involvement with Centrepoint for over 8 years has enabled me to get to know many
facets of the community I might not have otherwise been able to do. I particularly
appreciate my most recent assignment with the Fund Development Plus program when I
worked closely with the dedicated staff of Airdrie Family Services. I lived in Airdrie at the
time so was grateful to have the opportunity to learn more about the social service side of
my own community.        The heart, the dedication, the caring….of all the AFS staff was
inspirational. We were all so delighted when they were able to resolve a critical relocation
situation – how the whole city got behind them.             Other Centrepoint assignments
introduced me to a variety of volunteers, staff, organizations and appreciative recipients.
A special dimension of connecting to community has been to dialogue with funders and
understand their motivators for improving the non-profit sector. They choose to get
involved so that they can help build the capacity and sustainability of numerous
organizations through the effective programs delivered by Centrepoint – they understand
the return on their investment is so positively impacting hundreds of organizations and
individuals in the Calgary area.      So a special thank you to all the funders – the
Foundations, the Corporations and the individuals who recognize the importance of what is
being done through Centrepoint.

7. Networking Opportunities
Our non-profit community is a tight-knit community and a relatively small one. Through
my involvement with Centrepoint I‟ve been fortunate to meet many new colleagues as well
as interact with others I‟ve known for years in a different dimension. This luncheon today
is a good example of how Centrepoint provides networking opportunities for the volunteers
– I‟m sure you‟ve all had a chance to connect with old friends as well as meet new ones.
Before you leave here today, connect with at least two new people and see where that
leads you in the future. And remember the Stampede parties….who knew how well some
of the staff and volunteers could line-dance. The networking has both professional and
personal benefits. I‟ll share just one story that demonstrates the power of networking. As

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a result of meeting a panel participant in a Governance Plus session I did a few years ago,
I‟ve linked in with several organizations, spoken with his wife about some new approaches
to measuring results in non-profit organizations, we‟ve played some golf together, he‟s
participated in a workshop I delivered for the Association of Fundraising Professionals,
introduced me to someone who ultimately became my financial advisor and assisted me in
broadening my connections and understanding of the community. That‟s just one person
I‟ve met through Centrepoint who has impacted many facets of my life …

8. Giving Back
Involvement as a volunteer with Centrepoint has provided me with a variety of ways to give
back to the community. We all go through stages in our lives where we are able to
provide more or less time to volunteering. One of the great advantages to volunteering
with Centrepoint is having a variety of ways to get involved – to give back. It may be a half
day consultation, involvement with a committee, and long term mentoring relationship,
delivering a training session. The common denominator is that whatever you choose to
do – you‟re giving back. And we also know that our giving back is making a difference –
creating a positive impact on the specific organization and people we‟re working with, and
an impact on the broader community. This is one of those personal benefits – it just feels
so good to be part of a positive experience.
Networking has also enabled many of us to give back in another way….through the many
connections I‟ve made through Centrepoint I find that I can start connecting colleagues
with other organizations that might be able to use their expertise and skills. This type of
connecting enables the influence of Centrepoint to expand beyond direct service and
program delivery. It goes back to how small this community really is and how we are
willing and open to share our expertise to ensure the viability of our non-profit sector.
Centrepoint‟s efficient and effective service delivery – makes it easy to give back and know
that you‟ve made a difference.
9. Personal Development
This is another personal reward part of the equation.             I think of all the learning
opportunities, the connections, the skill development, the introductions that have come
through Centrepoint. I feel I can do so many things better in my profession and generally
in my life because of my involvement with Centrepoint. I also know that I‟ve been able to
experience things and meet people that have influenced my career path and decisions I‟ve
made in my life. It‟s quite amazing when I think back how connections here have lead to
life choices I might never have had.

10. Having fun
My key area of volunteering is related to fundraising, and we often say the first three
letters are FUN. It‟s certainly important to have fun in every aspect of your life and having
fun as a volunteer helps make it a memorable and rewarding experience – also makes it
one of those things that you want to keep doing. We can all agree that this is an element
of volunteering with Centrepoint, whether it‟s the interaction with the staff, with the
organizations and the individuals we meet through our involvement.           What we do is
challenging, it‟s rewarding and at times frustrating….but there‟s always that colleague who
brings the balance to the experience by sharing a story, giving a warm smile and a hug,
telling a joke (thanks Hazel), and reinforcing why you chose to get involved in the first
place.


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So, those are my top ten reasons for staying involved with Centrepoint as a volunteer.

As I‟ve thought through my involvement with Centrepoint, it‟s been a remarkable journey
that has brought many happy memories and rewarding experiences. When I left Calgary
last fall I knew one of the things I was going to miss was my involvement with Centrepoint
so I‟m delighted that I‟m going to be able to stay connected through a couple of new
initiatives.
Be proud to be associated with such a great organization, celebrate the successes you‟ve
had as a volunteer, keep the passion for what you do and continue to be the heart of
Centrepoint by sharing your time and expertise to positively impact our community. You
truly have been part of that small group of thoughtful, committed citizens that can change
the world….or at least the non-profit community in the Calgary area. You are the heart of
Centrepoint. Thank you.


Anne Kirkpatrick




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