Rhiannon Russell: For those who might not know, tell me about the services Volunteer Bénévoles Yukon offers.
Bruno Bourdache: We are a volunteer centre, so we help people find volunteer opportunities and we help NGOs find volunteers.
With other partners, we also organize the Education, Career, and Volunteer Expo. That’s in the fall. And in the spring, we organize the Job and Volunteer Fair.
The expo is more for high-school students or people who want to go back to school, people looking for a part-time job or looking for experience volunteering. Both it and the Job and Volunteer Fair are open to everyone.
We are also a training centre; we offer a workshop in Whitehorse that provides training on everything that touches the non-profit world. So it could be marketing, board responsibilities, liability insurance, for example. It’s very broad.
The next workshops will be Dec. 1 and Dec. 2.
Also, we manage an NGO training fund, so we can provide up to $5,000 to a non-profit to do training and work. It’s open to board members, staff, and volunteers.
We’re also working to develop an e-training centre. The goal is to reach NGOs in the communities. We’re going to keep records of all past workshops and also we’ll be able to provide online courses.
We have a professional-services database as well. It may seem like everyone knows everyone in the Yukon, but it’s not always true. If an NGO is looking for a consultant, we have a list of categories [of different professions] that might be useful for some NGOs. And when I say NGOs, I mean for board members – they’re mostly volunteers. It’s for volunteers and staff.
Since May, we also have an employment centre, so now we can help youth find a job with a non-profit organization. And we’re able to provide a minimum-wage subsidy for five months. That is a partnership with Service Canada.
RR: How do the volunteer placements work? Will an NGO contact you and say, we have this posting?
BB: On our website, we ask them to fill out a form and submit a volunteer opportunity. After that, the way we work is when an NGO sends us a volunteer opportunity, we have almost 280 potential volunteers.
They can register online. It’s one way to match.
We also post them on YuWin. That partnership is awesome because a lot of people check the YuWin job page.
(Volunteers) have an opportunity to find experiences and to create their own network by doing some volunteering.
Since we started that partnership, it’s easier for NGOs to find volunteers. It’s more efficient for us.
And of course, we promote on Facebook and Twitter.
RR: When did the expo and the fair start?
BB: In the past, YuWin had its own job fair, Yukon College had its own education fair, and Volunteer Yukon had our own volunteer fair. One time, we decided to meet and see if there was a way to work together.
The first one in partnership was in 2012. And the Job and Volunteer Fair was a little bit later — the first one was 2014. That was in partnership with YuWin, Volunteer Yukon, and the Chamber of Commerce.
We could not work without volunteers, but we could not provide all our services without partners.
RR: How long have you been in this position?
BB: A long time. 10 years.
RR: What do you like about this job? What keeps you doing it?
BB: My board allows me a lot of creativity, a lot of flexibility. I can do almost anything if my board approves the ideas — they must follow our vision and mission — and most of the time, it does approve them.
That’s why I’m still here. Every day is different.
Also, there is a challenge every day. One of the challenges was, for four years, I was the only staff. So I was doing almost everything.
Now I have a staff member who works specifically for Youth on Board, helping students to find jobs with non-profit organizations.
RR: What are the benefits of volunteering to the individual and also to the community?
BB: In the Yukon, almost 50 per cent of people are volunteering. If you have kids in school, you’re volunteering as a coach or following your kid to an event. That’s one way for people to be a volunteer.
But if you want to meet new friends, if you want to build your network because you’re looking for a job, you’re looking experiences, for example, this is why you’re volunteering.
RR: Do you think there’s a strong volunteer community in the Yukon?
BB: Yes. There are about 600 NGOs in the Yukon. They need at least three to four board members, and they are all volunteers. So yes, in the Yukon, we cannot be as dynamic or strong as we are without volunteers.
For more information, to fill out a volunteer registration form, or to submit a volunteer opportunity, visit VolunteerYukon.ca.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.