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 Welcome to our Member Spotlight Page. This special feature showcases GPVSB’s most valuable assets– our members! Spotlighting members from across the GPVSB spectrum, Member Spotlight reflects the rich tapestry of our membership and profiles active Non-profit and business organizations. If you would like to be featured in this section please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Create your own member story: join GPVSB today! 

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Odyssey House

 


           

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Lacey Bowers

Volunteer Coordinator, Odyssey House

 

Onto Second Stage

 

by Rachael Rode, Communications Specialist

 

                  Odyssey House is a non-profit women's shelter in Grande Prairie. It provides a short-term stay for women and children leaving domestic violence, supplying resources such as support groups and full-time child care. Because of the sector the organization is involved in, Odyssey House generally keeps a low profile, but the work it does is monumental in the community.

 

                  I sat down with Lacey Bowers, who started at Odyssey House in 2009 as a Childcare Worker and by 2013 had progressed to the position of Volunteer Coordinator. Although she wasn't present when Odyssey House joined GPVSB, she can definitely see the benefits that come through the Bureau. “If I ever need volunteers in an event I always recruit through you guys,” Bowers said, and added, “Advertising positions on the website is great.” There are many ways volunteers contribute, such as childcare, public education, support group facilitation, reception, and even filing taxes for the residents.

 

                  Additionally, Odyssey House will host special events or workshops which require additional volunteers, and GPVSB helps connect the agency to the volunteer community in Grande Prairie. GPVSB also features professional development programs, which Bowers has experienced. “The workshops are great as well. I've attended quite a few of them,” she stated. Overall, the volunteer effort put into Odyssey House has been exceptional. “Grande Prairie is very generous when it comes the programming at Odyssey House,” Bowers said. “I just thank the community for everything they've done for us. And thank you to the VSB as well, you guys are awesome at supporting us and we love working with you guys.”

 

                  Volunteers give to Odyssey House, but Odyssey House also gives back. Bowers explained that volunteers are provided with training sessions which equip them with skills and information. “[Volunteers] gain knowledge to help end domestic violence and to help neighbors, friends and family learn how to respond to domestic violence and where to refer victims of domestic violence,” she stated. Odyssey House's mission is to help women in crisis, and that mission extends into their volunteer network, spreading the reach of their positive influence farther into the community.

 

                  With the help of GPVSB, Odyssey House contributes locally, serving the locale of Grande Prairie, but they also have residents coming from Ontario, Nova Scotia, and even international destinations such as Japan. Bowers recounted many different success stories of former residents. It isn't uncommon for a woman to leave Odyssey House and begin again, living self-sufficiently, graduating from post-secondary education, and raising her family without the abuse from a previous partner.

 

                  Because of the growing need for such assistance, a second stage has been in production and is ready to open up in October. “It's the next level to our emergency shelter,” Bowers described. This second stage features 14 apartments of one to three bedrooms each, and while it still has the same security, but is designed for more long-term residents who require a place stay from six months to a year. Attending programming is mandatory, and gradually residents will be required to take on duties such as paying rent and working, readying them for life outside of the shelter.

 

                  Along with the increased capacity, Bowers asserted, “The volunteer program will double.” They will need more volunteers in childcare, plus new programs, such as individuals who may be willing to teach a babysitting course, to instruct Foodsafe and cooking classes, to host self-care activities, and more. “We're trying to get the word out as much as we can,” Bowers said, and added, “I never turn anybody away.”

 

                  If you would like to get involved with Odyssey House and be part of the amazing services they provide to women starting to live an empowered life, you can contact them at (780) 538-1332 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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Heart & Stroke Foundation

 


           

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Margaret Bell  

HSF Area Manager 

 

Local Community: National Impact

by Rachael Rode, Communications Specialist

 

Margaret Bell is the local Area Manager for the national non-profit organization Heart & Stroke Foundation. But local isn’t as small as you may think: she oversees the operations for North-western Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and our very own Grande Prairie. With such an extensive reason of responsibilities, one might wonder why this branch of Heart & Stroke would choose to join Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau. Indeed, they’ve been a member since 2008. But to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, connecting with GPVSB was a necessary step. Bell explained that their organizations is totally supported by volunteers, so they saw GPVSB as the best way to connect with the foundation that supports their efforts in heart and stroke advocacy. “We’re a volunteer charity and so it’s a perfect partnership,” Bell said. Although she’s a member of a national agency, she supports local organizations as well, which is another one of GPVSB’s highlights. “When we have special events we need different volunteers, [so it’s] nice to be able to phone a local organization to recruit help,” she explained.

And we’re glad that individuals continue to volunteer with the Heart & Stroke Foundation, because the work they do is relevant and necessary to promote health in the lives of Canadians across the nation. Without the foundation, Canadians would lack health information and supportive environments which can decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. Heart & Stroke also invests in research in universities, hospitals and communities across the country. Bell summed it up by stating, “We are the largest contributor to heart and stroke research after the federal government.”

If you choose to volunteer, not only will you be helping the Canadian populace at large, but you will also benefit from Heart & Stroke Foundation’s vibrant volunteer community. Bell explained that volunteers receive skills training for tasks like data entry and also described the atmosphere when larger tasks have to be completed, such as mass mailings. “We like to have work bees [but] it becomes more of an event rather than work.  That’s what we try to create in our office -- more fun.”

The goal of the Foundation overall is to support Canadians and create survivors. If you’d like to get involved with this mission that is structured at local levels to make a national difference, you can volunteer at heartandstoke.ca, or call Margaret Bell at 780-513-0439.

 

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Disclaimer of Liability: This page contains links to third-party service provider websites. Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau is not responsible and assumes no liability for the content or materials available on any linked third-party sites.

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