Jennifer Ellis
By Jennifer Ellis
April 8th, 2014

This week I caught up with Christine Andison who, as many of you know, volunteers tirelessly in this community for the Red Mountain Racers Society.

Christine’s volunteering experience is many and varied. Currently she is President of the Red Mountain Racers Society, but she has been on the Board of the Red Mountain Racers for nine years, and also served as Vice-President and a fundraising executive for the organization. She also sits on the Board of Tourism Rossland. Andison started volunteering as a young adult, working on auxiliary hospital fundraisers, and more recently sat on the Board for the Rossland Figure Skating Club and the Golden Bear Childcare Society.

Whew! All this means that Christine volunteers on average ten to fifteen hours a week during the year. But during busy times, when Red Mountain is hosting a race, Christine can end up working twelve-hour days volunteering for four days in a row! Beyond race days, there is also the behind the scenes work that keeps the Red Mountain Racers organization running including programming, event planning, fundraising, payroll, and hiring staff.

Andison is quick to note that while she has a hand in many of these things, “it is shared work and we have a really great group of volunteers. There are nine other people on the Executive Board and all of the 180 parents of the ninety children involved in the organization.”

What makes it worth it for Christine? A multitude of things.

“Watching the young athletes and the smiles on race day makes it worth every second!” She further observed that, “a number of the athletes take the time to thank me for volunteering, and there is significant value in raising kids who recognize the value of volunteering.”

I asked Andison what motivates her to volunteer and she responded, “I always volunteer for organizations and events that I believe in and that I feel benefit the community in which I live. As such, I find it incredibly rewarding to volunteer. It has been my experience that the volunteer community is made up of a very passionate and dedicated group of people who all have a common goal: to enrich the community, the experiences and the lives of those around them. I feel very passionately about the amazing community in which I am fortunate enough to live, and as such if I can, in some small way, contribute, I am delighted.”

Red Mountain Racers is also unique as an organization in that it offers parents the opportunity to contribute a certain number of volunteer hours to the club in return for a reduced rate for their children’s racing. This gives Andison special insight not only as a volunteer, but as an organizer of many volunteers. When asked about this aspect of her volunteer experience, Andison noted the following:

“The Red Mountain Racers could not operate without volunteers. Red Mountain Racers can be an important entry point for volunteering. A lot of the volunteers who start volunteering, say as a gate judge, for races, have never volunteered before. Now we have people on the Board who started as a gate judge. They realize that it is fun and they see how much fun the children are having, and they want to set aside the time and help. Also, the club part of Red Mountain Racers extends not just to the children and athletes, but also to the adults. Many of the parents in the club have become some of my closest friends, and because we become friends and we are working toward a common goal, it then becomes that much more exciting and fun to volunteer. I think parents genuinely enjoy volunteering.”

She observed that for many of the larger events, approximately a hundred volunteers are needed per day to fill the necessary positions and that many of the Red Mountain Racers alumni continue to come out to help, “People like Grant Smith, Pat Stevens, Diane Johnstone, Gary Aiken, Don Speary and many others whose racers are long since grown and out of the program still come back and lend a hand. We are so grateful to each of them as they continue to mentor and guide the club.”

There are challenges associated with volunteering, of course. For Andison, it is the inevitable “finding enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I would like to” and giving up things like exercise, sleep and family time in order to fulfill her volunteer obligations. She adds that while her husband is very active with Red Mountain Racers and has volunteered with other organizations in the past, she does most of the family volunteering right now, and he plays an important role by taking care of things on the family front while she does so.

She noted that she got into volunteering when she was nineteen because of a mother of one of her friends. “We used to do an annual pierogi making drive for the hospital. For two weeks at a time we would make pierogies. The important part of this was my friend’s mother was so involved in so many things in the community and was a real inspiration to me. I would like to think that the other really positive thing about me volunteering is having my daughter understand the value of volunteers and volunteering.”

When asked about the importance of volunteering in our community Andison observed: “Our community would be a very different and far less vibrant place were it not for the countless volunteer hours put forward by so many Rosslanders. Imagine Rossland without the Winter Carnival, Red Mountain Racers, Minor Hockey, Figure Skating, Soccer, Baseball, Golden Bear Children’s Centre, the Seven Summits Centre for Learning, the Red Mountain Academies, the Arts Council, the Museum, the Follies….the list is long and these are just a few items that pop to mind. Volunteers are at the heart of every vibrant community, and I am very thankful that Rossland has a healthy volunteer base and I am very grateful to each and every one of you!”

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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