There are many who say that city of Prince George is the unofficial the capital of Northern British Columbia, despite being located just under its mid-section. This is a testament to how vital a service hub the community is. Home to about 74,000 people, Prince George boasts a university, college, international airport, oh and the best volunteers in the province according to Kari Andreschefski.
 
“The response, compassion, and care that the volunteers of Prince George have shown whether it be during the Canada Winter Games, the 2017 and 2018 wildfire evacuations, or any other community event just proves that the spirit of volunteerism is strong in Prince George,” Andreschefski said.
 
Andreschefski would know. She’s one of them, having joined the Red Cross as an Emergency Management volunteer five years ago. And like many, Andreschefski is balancing her desire to help with a full-time job. Luckily, the Red Cross offers flexible schedules.
 
Volunteer Naomi“I help when I can, where I can” Andreschefski explained. “Outside of working hours it takes little time to go meet up with someone affected by a personal disaster like a house fire and make sure they have a roof over their head for the next couple of days and that they’ve got enough groceries. That takes maybe an hour or two out of my day.”
 
Fellow volunteer Naomi Day feels the same.
 
“I really appreciate the fact that the Red Cross recognizes that we cannot always respond to calls and encourages people to participate where they are able – but not at the expense of family or work,” Day said. “You may feel like it takes a lot out of you at times, to give of your time and talents, but often doing so is very rewarding.”
 
As a nurse, Day is used to providing solace for people in need but found that her deployment to Grand Forks in response to the flooding in 2018 added further insight into what her patients may be experiencing. Andreschefski has also learned a lot in her time as a Red Cross volunteer.
 
“The training opportunities that I have participated in over the years have increased my resiliency to be able to respond in the case of an emergency for myself and for the Red Cross itself,” Andreschefski said.
 
This is something Andreschefski tries to convey when speaking with students in particular.
 
“It can help you time-manage your schooling,” Andreschefski said. “The coping mechanisms, the resiliency that you build in training, and how to deal with stress transfers over into your personal life.”
 
These skills help Day and Andreschefski to support people who have been through a personal disaster and are dealing with some of the most difficult times in their lives. And if you ask them, that’s the real reason they volunteer.
 
“People are often very frustrated, stressed, and don’t know where to start.. If you can sit down with them and say  ‘Here are your next steps, this is where you can go.’ Or ‘Heck, you’ve done a great job so far. Keep going. Just know that we’ve got you covered for now’ I think that’s a huge relief that we’re providing,” Andreschefski explained. “The appreciation we get as volunteer goes a long way as well.”
 
If you’re interested in becoming a Red Cross Emergency Management volunteer in Prince George please visit our website at redcross.ca/volunteer or send an email to VolunteerBCY@redcross.ca to find out more.