Jennifer Ellis
By Jennifer Ellis
March 13th, 2014

As part of our ongoing series regarding the non-money economy, this week I checked in with Ann Quarterman, one of the many volunteers extraordinaire in our community.

At this point in time, Ann plays a central role in the Visions for Small Schools Society that administers the Seven Summits Centre for Learning. She also participates in the Rossland School Parent Advisory Committee, and the Crowe Parent Advisory Committee, helps with her daughter’s Junior Racing program and teaches cross-country skiing for the Rossland School.

In the past, she has been a volunteer cross-country ski coach, Chair of the Board for Golden Bear daycare, Secretary for the Rossland Trails Society, Neighbourhood of Learning Committee Member, Jackrabbits co-coordinator, hot lunch coordinator, a volunteer ski patroller, and head of the employees union at Red Mountain Resort.

She has consistently volunteered ten to twenty hours a week since moving to Rossland when she was twenty-three.

I asked Ann what motivated her to volunteer. She responded, “It is usually something that grabs my attention at that particular time in my life. Right now it is education-related. But previously it has been outdoor activity or union related. It isn’t totally altruistic. With Seven Summits, I felt that if we didn’t do it now, we would miss the opportunity to do something really cool… Also the people I work with on the rest of the Board at Seven Summits are amazing. It’s a lot of work for everyone, and everyone is pulling their weight. When you are volunteering, the group has to work, and I have left positions before where the group didn’t work.”

“Sometimes I think I want to volunteer for something fun, like Winter Carnival, and I have, but I usually end up committing my time to something that is more cause related.”

Ann noted that she also volunteers for social reasons. She works from home, and is her own boss. As a result, volunteering is an opportunity for social interaction. “It is fun and we often have lots of laughs,” Quarterman observed.

One of the biggest challenges associated with volunteering is the preponderance of evening meetings – often two to three per week. According to Ann, they were easier when the children were younger, but now that they have activities of their own in the late afternoon and evenings, “it is much harder to juggle everything and do it well.” She also noted the tradeoff between volunteering and paid work, and observed that as the cost of her children’s sports increase, she may have to volunteer less.

When asked how people start down the path of volunteering Ann was unsure. She noted that many people in the community volunteer. Some prefer finite short-term tasks while others take on longer-term commitments. We talked about forced volunteering as a way to get some of those reluctant volunteers out there and observed that often people who are not usual volunteers end up having a better time than they expected when they have to participate. She noted that sometimes she too has gotten hauled into volunteering, but that it has still been a good experience, but that for the most part she wants to volunteer, “I would say for me, volunteering is something I feel compelled to do — opportunities arise all the time and I go with them, sometimes I seek out volunteering for something that I believe in or that interests me.  One thing often leads to another. “

She also noted how important volunteering is from both a personal and community perspective, “You get back as much as you give and I’ve gotten jobs from my volunteering. The community is far richer as a result of volunteers. A lot of things wouldn’t happen without volunteers. It’s a way to meet people that you would not meet normally and I’ve made some really good friends. I feel more connected to the community and more ownership.”

The Telegraph wants to profile all of the amazing people and groups who make our town what it is. No volunteering effort is too small. If you want to nominate a volunteer or a non-profit organization, or yourself, for a profile contact us here.

Jennifer Ellis is a local writer and consultant. Her first novel, a middle-grade fantasy for adults and children on time travel, physics and witchcraft, entitled A Pair of Docks, is available on Amazon and at Café Books West. Her second novel, due out in April, explores the issues of a non-money economy in a post-apocalyptic future.

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