When Kimberly Vance-Lundsbye and her family first moved to the South Cariboo in 2012, they didn’t expect to stay much longer than a year or two.
The Lower Mainland transplants didn’t know much about the 100 Mile House community, nor did they know anyone in the area, and they weren’t sure it would be a good fit.
After a year of experiencing the bliss of not commuting for an hour-plus each way to work – and enjoying a healthier work-life balance as a result – she and her husband were convinced.
“We bought our house after a year and that was it. We thought, why not here?” Vance-Lundsbye recalled.
Nearly a decade later, the 37-year old is an integral part of the 100 Mile House community, spending countless hours each week volunteering for various community organizations.
She is in her fourth year as chair of both the Canadian Mental Health Association South Cariboo Branch and Canadian Parents for French South Cariboo, and is secretary for the 100 Mile Nordic Ski Society. She also helps out with Kokoro Judo Club, when needed.
“If you want to have sports clubs or mental health services or anything you value in the town, I do feel a certain sense of responsibility to contribute energy, time and skill,” she explains. “These things really rely on enthusiastic volunteers who are willing to contribute what they can.”
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In addition to volunteering many hours each week and raising three sons, aged three, six and 10, Vance-Lundsbye also works part-time at Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy Society.
She said her experience in the non-profit sector helps provide specific knowledge to the various boards with which she’s involved, and in turn, her volunteer work helps boost her professional skills as well.
“I have the opportunity to learn a lot about board governance, funding, HR-type stuff, where you don’t often get an opportunity for that when you work for a small organization in a small town,” she said.
As a “bonus,” she said volunteering has been a great way to make connections and develop friendships with like-minded people.
“The kind of people who volunteer tend to be really amazing people who are fun to be around,” she said. “It’s a good crowd to hang with.”
When asked how she juggles her many commitments and her young family, she laughs, “not very well.”
However, she attributes her employer, CCPL, for being “supportive of skill-sharing and volunteer work,” which helps with a work-life balance, as well as her mindful pursuit of volunteer opportunities that blend well with her family’s hobbies.
She also said the support she provides for the community is often reciprocated by way of help when she needs it, from colleagues, friends, neighbours and fellow volunteers.
“I feel pretty secure that if I need help or support that those supports are in place, that I can call for them and the right people will come forward,” she said. “If you contribute a lot to your community, the community also contributes to you.”
Vance-Lundsbye has no plans to slow down her community advocacy work and is looking forward to boosting the South Cariboo’s profile as an outdoor sports destination. She said there are major opportunities in the expansion of mountain biking and Nordic ski trails, and the possibility of revitalizing some of the larger-scale events that used to take place here, like the Cariboo Marathon.
To help the community thrive in the coming years, Vance-Lundsbye encourages people of all ages to get involved in something they enjoy and feel passionate about. She suggests starting small by reaching out and helping with events, and keeping in mind that volunteer boards flourish when they have members of all different backgrounds and skill sets.
“If you’re a super handy person who knows how to fix things, all of these facilities need someone to do handy work. Or maybe you’re great at social media and you could contribute to a sporting group and get their online presence up to speed,” she said.
“I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have skills to share.”