A perfect fit for city community centre

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Michelle Houssin came to understand the value of volunteers when she was working as the regional controller at a non-profit.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/01/2022 (371 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Michelle Houssin came to understand the value of volunteers when she was working as the regional controller at a non-profit.

“They relied on volunteers to assist them in delivering their services, and through that experience I really saw the impact volunteers can have on an organization,” says Houssin, 65.

When the Winnipeg resident retired, she felt it was time to do some volunteering herself.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Volunteer co-ordinator Michelle Houssin volunteers three times a week, managing the volunteer database software and assisting with onboarding and scheduling volunteers.

Her son was involved in sports programs at Dakota Community Centre in the St. Vital neighbourhood for many years and benefited from the dedication of numerous volunteer coaches, managers, convenors and canteen workers.

That inspired Houssin to start volunteering at Dakota CC. She got involved when it opened its field house in fall 2017, giving tours of the 60,000-square-foot facility and providing information on available programming.

The community centre offers numerous sports and fitness programs for people of all ages, as well as activities for older adults, such as painting classes and computer training.

Last year, Houssin took on the role of volunteer co-ordinator at Dakota. She volunteers three times a week, managing the volunteer database software and assisting with onboarding and scheduling volunteers.

“I really find the opportunity to give back to my community rewarding,” she says. “I also enjoy the interaction with such a great group of volunteers and staff. It provides a connection to people that often diminishes when you retire.”

The community centre currently relies on 65 volunteers, ranging from high school students to retirees.

“When people think about volunteering they think about retired people as the norm, but we have so many students who give their time to us and I find that really inspiring,” Houssin says.

Houssin’s outgoing personality and organizational skills make her a great fit at Dakota, says Colleen Mahon, executive assistant and volunteer program co-ordinator.

“It’s a lot to organize everything and we’re lucky we have her in that role,” Mahon says, adding Houssin’s considerate nature puts new volunteers at ease. “She’s very friendly, very kind and compassionate.”

According to Mahon, volunteers have been instrumental to the community centre’s success as it has adjusted to various COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

“We’re lucky that there are volunteers out there who are willing to give their time and help their community, because they are allowing the doors to be open here,” she says.

Houssin is currently looking for more people to volunteer at Dakota. The biggest need right now is for people to volunteer as greeters at the community centre’s access points, welcoming people and checking their proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

In the spring, Houssin will be recruiting volunteers for the community centre’s gardening team and farmers’ market.

There is a variety of shifts available and Houssin encourages people of all ages to apply at dakotacc.com.

“You may decide to volunteer in order to benefit our community, but the surprise may be how much you benefit in giving of yourself, even in small ways,” Houssin says. “I call Dakota Community Centre my happy place.”

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com

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