Parksville Qualicum Beach may be known for its resorts, its tourism and its destination as Canada’s retirement community. But a group of young professionals are seeking to highlight their own place in the fabric of the community.
Andrew McLane of Qualicum Beach, who runs a realty group here, is part of a five-member organizing committee for a new Oceanside Young Professionals Network. YPN chapters combine elements of social support, benefit fundraising and professional networking opportunities for professionals up to age 40.
And, up until now, there has not been one in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
“They’re everywhere,” said McLane, 30, citing nearby chapters in Nanaimo, Courtenay-Comox and Port Alberni. “Oceanside is probably the only area not to have one.”
McLane and his fellow organizers plan to hold their first chapter meeting in January. To boost interest and provide information and seed money, they are hosting a beer-and-pizza fundraiser Monday, Dec. 12, beginning at
5 p.m. at the Qualicum Beach Inn.
For $20, guests can get pizza and a drink, learn more about YPN and contribute their own ideas and thoughts about how the local chapter will operate. The evening will include an address from the president of the Nanaimo YPN chapter.
“Part of the money will be used to start up our network,” said McLane, who noted the YPN needs to establish a charitable organization and hire someone to create and maintain a website — “Hopefully a young professional,” he said with a laugh.
His organizing committee includes Carolyn Mueller and Deanna McMillan, both associates with McLane’s realty group; Leanne Souchuck of McGorman McLean Accountants in Parksville; and Brad Rembold of Sand Dollar Mortgage. Young professionals networks are structured much like established social and business organizations like Rotary Club and local chambers of commerce.
Oceanside YPN will hold regular meetings, either monthly or bi-monthly; will host guest speakers; offer professional development opportunities; and will hold several fundraisers, with all money raised remaining in the region to benefit local individuals and groups.
“The networking part of it is key, as well,” said McLane. “A lot of people like to do business with people their own age.”
Membership dues will be determined in part by the number of members who join, but will be kept “substantially” lower than equivalent fees for Rotary or Chamber of Commerce, McLane said.
“We want to make it reachable for everybody,” said Mueller. “We know a lot of young people are just starting out, they have families and young children. We don’t want anyone left out.”
And that goes for membership itself. The committee members say the YPN is open not only to small-business owners and entrepreneurs, but to all professionals 45-under, including farmers, construction workers and anyone else.
“We’re going to make this go,” said McLane. “The only question is, are we going to start with 20 members and grow to 200, or start with 100 and grow to 1,000?”
Information on Oceanside Young Professionals Network, and details on Monday’s pizza-and-beer night at Qualicum Beach Inn, can be found on its Facebook page, Young Professionals of Oceanside.