Kathy Weaving

Kathy Weaving

VantageOne volunteers

VantageOne frees up employees to volunteer at 2012 B.C. Winter Games in Greater Vernon.

VantageOne Financial Services is getting into a sporting mood.

Glenn Benischek, CEO of the local financial firm, has given the green light for employees to volunteer at the B.C. Winter Games, Feb. 23-26 in Greater Vernon.

VantageOne will allow its employees, depending on operational capability and approval by department managers, to volunteer for the Games on company time, but without pay.

It is estimated 1,400 athletes, along with 500 coaches and officials, will take part in 15 sporting events at venues in Vernon, Coldstream, Silver Star Mountain Resort and Armstrong.

“They need a lot of volunteers to run the Winter Games. It’s amazing the number of people needed to make these things occur,” said Benischek.

“We see the B.C. Winter Games as being two big things for our area – it’s helping the kids and sport in British Columbia. The secondary thing is it leaves a legacy for our community to invest funds in sport in that region.”

Half of the bottom line savings from the Winter Games budget will stay in Greater Vernon as a legacy fund, which will be distributed to amateur sport and recreation groups throughout the community. As well, all of the profits from souvenir sales goes into the fund.

Souvenirs – including hats, shirts, hoodies and jackets – are available at the Winter Games office (formerly Vernon Flower Shop) on 31st Street. Despite ongoing road works in front of the building, there is public access on 31st Avenue.

While volunteer enrollment is well underway, Benischek would like to see the local business community boost those numbers.

“I’d like to challenge other employers in our region to encourage their staff to, if they can, volunteer at these Games,” he said.

“If we can have businesses that are able to offer a few employees here and there, it’s amazing how our volunteer base will grow significantly.”

Added Brenda Thorlakson, Winter Games office manager: “Vernon is fantastic for volunteer support and I’m hearing lots of excitement about the Games. These Games happen because people are willing to step forward and volunteer.”

Kathy Weaving, an assistant in VantageOne’s business services department, was one of the first people Benischek turned to when they began their volunteer effort. A long-time volunteer for Vernon minor hockey, minor baseball, club volleyball and the Vernon Vipers, she was a natural choice.

“I enjoy my volunteer time, so when Glenn said he was on board with the Winter Games, he said ‘Will you help?’” said Weaving, who is helping train Winter Games staff on the debit machine and helped organize the grand opening for Winter Games office last month.

“My name will go on the list for whatever they need to be done and they can call.”

Weaving also has a personal connection with the Games as her son, Douglas, now 27, competed in baseball at the 2000 Summer Games in Victoria.

“We all went down and watched them play ball. It was a lot of fun. He had a great time,” she said.

“I have a little bit of an understanding of what goes into getting this done, so I can help in whatever way they need me.”

For more information, to enroll as a volunteer, or to buy souvenirs, visit the Games website at www.2012bcwintergames.ca.