Volunteer Carmen MacLean loves sharing her time with fellow members at Monterey Recreation Centre in Oak Bay. Those with time on their hands can visit the Oak Bay Volunteer Fair at the centre, 1442 Monterey Ave., this weekend to see who needs a little help in the community. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News)

Oak Bay showcases non-profits and more with inaugural volunteer fair

The Oak Bay Volunteer fair runs Jan. 20 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the Monterey Recreation Centre

Carmen MacLean tends to sing along and encourage others as she serves up themed meals at the Monterey Recreation Centre.

She enjoys her non-paying job, hamming it up when given an opportunity.

“We just did a Hootenanny for the volunteers, I just loved it,” she says with a laugh.

MacLean came to the Monterey centre for the exercise classes. She paid her membership and showed up a couple days a week to work out and hang out, maybe make some friends.

That’s just what happened, she quickly went from visits in the sunny Fern Cafe to joining special events organizers and the Noteables performance group. Now she routinely takes courses including a Lifelong Learning class in musical theatre started just last week. With 200 of those classes available, some even free, there’s something for everyone, she says. The 2,100 members also enjoy 32 clubs.

Seven years later, she’s a valued volunteer and member – not an unusual combination at the Oak Bay centre.

“Volunteers play many important roles in providing a great variety of services in our community – supporting the arts and recreation, protecting natural areas in parks, giving individuals a hand when they need it, running a charity book store, preserving our natural and cultural heritage, sea rescues, Block Watch – it goes on,” said Rick Marshall, a Community Association of Oak Bay member who sprouted the idea of a gathering. “Volunteers are at the heart of these and more; these community services could not continue without them.”

The Community Association of Oak Bay initiated a partnership with Oak Bay Volunteer Services and the Monterey Recreation Centre to showcase and celebrate community volunteers and to invite local residents of all ages to to check out opportunities to get involved.

The Oak Bay Volunteer fair runs Jan. 20 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the Monterey Recreation Centre.

”January is a time when people, from teens to seniors, are looking for new activities to join in our community, for ways to contribute their energy and talents, to meet new people and learn new skills,” Marshall said.

The Oak Bay Volunteer Fair includes door prizes and live music while it highlights volunteer opportunities for teens and adults with local community service organizations. Participation includes a variety of nonprofit volunteer groups and organizations engaging volunteers in providing community services in Oak Bay.

Volunteering is rewarding, says MacLean.

“It’s allowed me to enjoy all the musical things. I do whatever comes up. I really enjoy it,” she says. “I feel very much a part of the community and it gives me a wonderful feeling of self satisfaction. I feel so good. Giving is wonderful.”



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