Like many others, Karen Wallis “fell” into volunteer management, but then never looked back. Please join us in wishing Karen a well-deserved retirement! But first, her story on how she’s helped her community become Safer & Sounder.
After a career in the private sector and period of contract work that afforded me the opportunity to be at home with my sons in their formative years, I began my accidental career in Volunteer Management that has spanned over 20 years.
In 1996, I joined the James Bay Community Project as the Coordinator of Community Participation and Volunteers, and two years later in late 1998, I joined the Saanich Police Department as the Coordinator of Volunteers. During my ten years with Saanich, I was responsible for the management and delivery of volunteer and community based crime prevention programs, including the Block Watch program.
Seeing the opportunity to expand my experiences, I accepted a position with the Victoria Police Department (VicPD) in January 2009. For the past 9 years, I was the Coordinator of Volunteer Services with the Community Engagement Division, responsible for the all aspects of VicPD’s volunteer management. Most importantly the coordination and recognition of the VicPD’s volunteers, who give of their time freely in effort to prevent crime and create safer communities to live, work, and play.
Over the years, I have seen both growth and struggles in the Volunteer Management profession, including the battle to be recognized as professionals. I do believe that the positive changes have been made. For example, I appreciate that during the hiring process for my replacement my employer recognized the importance of hiring a Volunteer Management Professional. A professional with a good understanding and experience in the field and with an understanding of the many challenges, and wonderful rewards that engaging volunteers brings.
I recall many rewarding experiences, and of course some difficult challenges. Many of VicPD’s volunteers come to us with aspirations for a career in Policing and many do eventually make it.
Matthew’s story is one such success story. During my time with the Saanich Police, I was responsible for the summer student program. In 2005, Matthew joined the program, and from there building on his experiences and continuing his education he soon was successful in becoming a VicPD volunteer Reserve Constable. This is where we would meet again in 2009. A year or two Matthew was hired as a Police Officer, and assigned to the Patrol Division and later the Traffic Unit. Our paths would come full circle in 2016 when we would be working together again, when Matthew was assigned to the Community Engagement Division. This is where he continues his good work today.
I has been actively involved in several organizations, many related to my career. It was very rewarding to serve on the Block Watch Society of BC Board for 6 years and the AVRBC Board for 3 years. In addition, I served on numerous committees, concluding with the National VMPC conference in Victoria for the spring of 2017.
Although I am sad to be leaving all my AVRBC colleagues, I am delighted and eager to join my husband Mike in this next adventure of our lives – retirement. It has been a pleasure and an honour to have been part of the AVRBC family.
If you know any other members that are retiring and who should be featured, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.