IMMEASURABLE TREASURES: THE IMPACT OF GIVING TIME
It is no secret that the current hiring environment is a challenge for many businesses. Having the right person in the right role, someone friendly, reliable, and responsible, can truly make or break the experience customers can have. So, it is easy to understand why we treasure our KGH Foundation volunteers so deeply. Their gift of time and talent is so much more than a four-hour shift each week.
The contributions of volunteers, including the KGH Foundation Board of Directors, various committees, JoeAnna’s House and event volunteers, are significant. In 2022/23, over 300 volunteers gave 48,000 hours of their time in the KGH Foundation’s social enterprise venues. Together, they brought in almost $2.8 million dollars through sales at the Perking Lot, KGH Gift Shop, Royal Bistro and Rutland Thrift Store combined.
“Our volunteers are invaluable,” states KGH Foundation’s hospital venue supervisor, Gabriela (Gabi) Rubio Bocangel. “Without them, our margins would be dramatically affected. The profits from our venues are a valuable source of revenue and are vital to advancing projects that bring world-class health care to our community.”
If anyone knows what the volunteer experience is like, it’s Gabi herself. She started volunteering in the Perking Lot when she was 14 years old and continued through high school and university. When the opportunity arose to take a staff position to oversee the hospital venues, she was a perfect fit.
“I used to want to be a doctor because I thought it was the best way to help people,” says Gabi. Her father is a doctor, and his side of the family are all doctors. “Through my university studies, I discovered there are myriad ways to help people – and the route I chose is through volunteering and supporting volunteers at the KGH Foundation.”
“I started as a volunteer and became a volunteer trainer as I gained experience and knowledge,” explains Gabi.
“Now I’ve transitioned into a staff role. I am grateful to support volunteers who just want to make a difference. People are my jam,” says Gabi. “I guess you could say I have the gift of ‘the Gab’,” she adds with a wink.
Gabi’s counterpart, Max Galloway, also oversees the hospital venues. “We really rely on them, and they always come through,” says Max. “Every single volunteer, with every single hour they give to us, with every single smile, plays a fundamental role in helping achieve the organization’s overall goals.”
KGH Foundation Venue Supervisors Gabriela (Gabi) Rubio Bocangel and Max Galloway.
Max is originally from Vancouver Island. He has worked in the hospitality, food and beverage industries for years. Eight years ago, it was an opportunity to work at the Eldorado that moved him and his wife to Kelowna. There, Max became involved in the Eldorado’s legendary Annual Innkeeper’s Gala (see story on p.10) to raise funds in support of the KGH Foundation, and he felt the quiet calling to perhaps a greater purpose.
“After juggling a few roles during the pandemic, I was looking for a ‘pivot’,” says Max. “The opportunity with the KGH Foundation’s social enterprises seemed like a good fit; a place where I could use my experience to have a positive impact on the community.”
Jamie Russell also started as a volunteer in the Perking Lot. Now, her big smile is often the first thing people see when walking into Rutland Thrift. For the last seven years, she has managed the store. “I love our volunteers,” she says. “I am constantly amazed by their dedication and passion. The store literally would not run without them.”
When asked about how she feels about her volunteers, many of whom are in their golden years, she says, “They are so fun, and they do such amazing work in the store. Truly, they are my heart, they are my pride, and it brings me so much joy to work with them,” says Jamie.
Jamie Russell, Rutland Thrift Store Manager, in front of the store’s 3D mural.
“No matter what area you choose to volunteer with, volunteering with the KGH Foundation provides an opportunity to pass on kindness to others while making a difference in local health care,” says Gabi. “You give, and you receive. You give little parts of yourself away, and you receive parts of others. It’s a beautiful thing.”