As with many organizations and businesses across Canada, COVID-19 seriously disrupted operations and revenue flow for Beaver Valley Outreach. Most impacted was our Treasure Shop, the economic engine of our organization. Prior to the pandemic, the thrift store was generating more than 33% of BVO’s annual income. In 2020, that figure dropped by half to just 16%. To make matters worse, the number of BVO volunteers, the lifeblood of our organization, has dropped by 60% from over 300 people. The Treasure Shop currently has 50 active volunteers, compared to 180 pre-pandemic. In order to keep the store open, 10-15 new volunteers are required.
Our Treasure Shop was closed for much of 2020 and into 2021 and, when it was open, many of BVO’s active volunteers were hesitant to return to work, or needed to take on a caregiver role for their grandchildren or other members of their families. Add to this, the changing demographics of a small town, while attempting to recruit new volunteers.
“Due to the decline in our volunteer base, and to keep up our recycling efforts and open the store, we had no choice but to hire staff in our Treasure Shop in two key roles – a Sorting Assistant and a Bin Assistant – to provide consistency in our operations,” says BVO Volunteer Coordinator Julie Traversa, noting that some funding was obtained to assist in financing these positions.
“The pandemic, combined with our enhanced profile in the community, has prompted us to operate more like a business. We see this as an opportunity to create a better environment for our volunteers, attract new faces, and together serve our community better than ever.”
While trying to maintain the grassroots character of our organization, we recognize that we are also a social enterprise that has to generate revenue to fuel the programs and services we offer in our community,” adds BVO Executive Director Carolyn Letourneau. “Right now, we need to harness the knowledge and expertise of new people moving into the area, and engage them as volunteers. The time commitment we’re asking for in our Treasure Shop and other programs can be as little as 2 to 3 hours per week, or per month,” says Letourneau. “But ultimately, we’re really looking for a commitment, based on our current needs.”
If you care about the environment and want to help reduce items going to landfill, BVO has a position for you! The Treasure Shop is looking for creative, well-organized people in a number of roles: those with retail experience, those who like to sort books and music, and anyone with muscle to help move around donated goods. Volunteer opportunities elsewhere in BVO include assistance in various child care settings, seniors’ programs, Bottles for BVO, and Thornbury Community Garden.
Are you new to the area? Looking for a way to give back to the community? Volunteering at BVO is a great way to meet people, get connected, learn about our community, and learn about the charitable sector. Help others. Bring a friend. Have some fun while you help make good things happen in our community!
You can make a difference. It starts with a conversation. Call Julie Traversa, BVO Volunteer Coordinator, to find out how to get involved: 519-599-2577, ext. 125