Helping local volunteers make a difference

Program connects people with the services they can aid

For those looking to volunteer, Oceanside has a one-stop shop.

“Our main purpose is to connect people and organizations looking for volunteers, we’re matchmakers,” said Luba Plotnikoff, executive director of the Oceanside Volunteer Association.

The association currently has 450 volunteers, 42 member organizations and helps another 20 or 30 non-member organizations a year, but the numbers change frequently, pointed out manager Yvonne MacGregor.

While thousands of people volunteer in all kinds of ways and at over 120 local special events every year, the OVA provides a central place for volunteers who “want to make a difference,” but may not know what they’d like to do or how to initially get involved, Plotnikoff said.

People don’t have to go through the OVA, but the association is there to help people explore the opportunities and needs in the community and what type of stuff the person might want to do.

“It’s a great way to get your feet wet, test the water and see if you want to get involved.

“It’s rewarding for both sides, that’s the beauty of it,” she said adding it’s amazing to see so many dedicated volunteers in the community, including many that have been active for decades.

People can stop at the office or check their website for current opportunities that range from special events to ongoing work with local organizations.

There are opportunities like a hair dressing assistant in senior care homes, or musicians for regular entertainment at senior centres.

Plotnikoff said because they cover all of Oceanside there are many opportunities.

The service is free for volunteers and $50 per year for organizations. Non-member organizations can still access some services. 

The OVA hosts several workshops and has one coming up.

It’s a workshop on demystifying social media with media guru Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega on June 8. Contact the OVA to register for the event from 9 a.m. to noon at the Quality Bayside Resort in Parksville. Check his website at

For volunteer opportunities, or volunteers, stop at the office at 4a-125 McCarter Street, across from The News, Tues. to Thur. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., call 250-248-2637, e-mail or check their website at