Why I Volunteer – Ken

a photo of Ken Biron

When I was very young, I began volunteering with a youth oriented group, the Canadian Cadet Organizations. I wanted to go to sea. That started in 1981, in Northern BC. I needed the self-discipline that that organization provided; I stayed with that group for 22 years until adulthood amid a turbulent, dysfunctional life. My main employment outside of volunteering was with the British Columbia Forest Service, in Forest Protection and Inventory. The last job for them before my health changed was in the beginning of the Mountain Pine Beetle explosion in the mid to late 1980s. After a year of resting, my health got better. I returned to the Bug project in 1990 with a contractor and injured myself. I could not continue in that line of work. I still volunteered with Cadets. By 1995 I moved to Prince George and began a life there with Cadets amid a job at the newly opened in Prince George and still BC only, London Drugs.

In 2000, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and I had to drop Cadets a couple of years later. I retired from a job as a computer technician at London Drugs in 2002. I took care of some mental health issues and faced life alone with a disability in the city of Prince George. It was difficult at first, MS’ed up. I survived, thanks to learning all we really need is to have food, shelter and companionship secured. Life is a triangle of support. I needed to keep busy for survival once I secured a home and food. In late 2003, I began volunteering for the Handy Circle Resources Society through an umbrella society concerned with developing accessible housing in Prince George. They paid me a small wage starting in 2012. My most high-profile role for them today is networking, facilitating the StopGap Ramp Program for Prince George, being their volunteer Emcee at events and preparing presentations. In 2005, I became a Volunteer Facilitator for the MS Community in Prince George. Before 2010, I would blog for them on my own. I became the voice of MS in Prince George in the absence of a live group around 2011, and I facilitated a phantom group. While aging in this city, I began volunteering with the PG Council of Seniors first in late 2003 as a volunteer instructor teaching seniors about early technology and the internet as it was back then. I became a board member for a few years beginning about 2010. Late 2006 introduced me to the Patient Voices Network. By 2007 I was an Activated Patient.  In 2010 it became an official working partner to BC Health and their accredited partners. In 2018, I joined the BC SUPPORT unit on the Patient Council in Vancouver BC. The SUPPORT Unit and its regional centres including many of the provincial and national health partners they have, evolved from ideas first started in the BC Patent Voices Network since 2009 when they incorporated as a registered Non-profit in British Columbia supported by Impact BC a defunct supporter. The BC Patient Safety and Quality Council now supported them, another of the Patient Voices Network ideas coming to life that came to be around 2010.

Also in 2007, I started volunteering for the City of Prince George with the Advisory Committee on Accessibility and became community liaison for “Measuring up the North”, an initiative for Northern BC to become accessible. It’s now known as “Access 2024“. In 2016 and 2017, I returned to the Advisory Committee. I took a rest from that committee until 2020, when my application was accepted. In January 2022 I am applying for a second 2-year term. Through these volunteer positions, I began officially connecting to and volunteering with / for other local, provincial and national groups and have joined many other groups concerned with housing, accessibility, advocacy, regional health and successful aging. In 2008, we re-formed the Prince George Power Mobility Society, which is concerned with the safe enjoyment of Power Mobility devices. It’s struggling at present, but we have high hopes. In 2016, I became the Volunteer Web Designer for Volunteer Prince George. I also design the Carefree Society’s website. Through them I will return to Make a Change Canada’s IBDE program to make improvements on the design I created for Carefree in 2016 and perhaps jump start a business project I have. Thank you for recognizing me in all the hats I wear. Onward to futures best left to the imagination and hopefully realized! I suppose the best reason I volunteer is to keep my sanity. Disability was hard on my brain, and keeping it busy keeps me healthy, as far as society is concerned, anyway.

Since first posting of this writing of me, I have taken further education thanks to combined efforts of the Carefree Transportation Society. Thanks to Stakeholders and Supporters behind Make A Change Canada I completed the IBDE Training (taking upgrading now for a month, learning about BootStrap Framework software) in 2017. I also began a journey to develop a business plan towards a use for my 5 year website at walknroll.info and beyond. Stay tuned and subscribe there to see all my posts and who I become! I also maintain Volunteer Prince George’s website with plugin updates and security fixes. I’ve dealt with the server behind this website once or twice too. Thanks Telus Hosting Oh and you asked at first Why I Volunteer (so much)? Simply, it keeps my sanity in an insane MS’ed up world.

Edit half way through the year, on a sunny Sunday in June 2022.  I’m headed towards the future of Volunteer Prince George, as their President. We have a ‘Strategic Meeting‘ in a few days of this edit. Having stepped up as their Board President a few months ago during the historical COVID 19 Pandemic, just in time for one staff member to leave and another to come in. I have learned so much in this role. I was a ‘Hiring Manager’ overseeing a hiring team, twice. The current one resolved a conflict of time that kept her in the job. I also learned about different Board Roles, types of boards. My Governance Board here is active and hard working in professional jobs that fit their volunteer roles. This Governance board is universally inclusive by design as are the operations of the office. I also became board President of another Governance Board, The Carefree Transportation Society mentioned above as of May 2022. That is another society heading into a change, in 2023 though. They will hold a Strategic Meeting too.

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