Every year, Volunteer BC hosts a Photo Contest during National Volunteer Week (NVW) – to celebrate & recognize the importance of the ongoing contributions that volunteers make each day throughout our communities!

We’re going in-depth and highlighting participating organizations from across the province so we can learn more about the great work these organizations do and especially how they coped during the pandemic.

Community Recreational Initiatives Society (CRIS) Spotlight

The Community Recreational Initiatives Society, a non-profit society consisting of outdoor enthusiasts based in the Okanagan, lowers barriers to outdoor experiences by facilitating adventures for everyone, regardless of ability.

CRIS was founded in 2001 by firefighter Troy Becker and gradually grew with the help of family, friends, and local businesses to the multi-program team of permanent employees and dedicated volunteers it is today – a truly inspiring story!

CRIS aims to support people with physical, cognitive, intellectual, and sensory challenges and disabilities by creating outdoor and sports programs with their independence in mind. The Society also helps participants socialize more with others, thus improving their mental well-being.

The Society’s work is made possible by a team of dedicated volunteers. Over the last two decades, the Society has made significant headway in offering regular programming more frequently to more people and having four different programs that offer over 15 activities together. Such advancements have been made possible through funding from various sources such as the Ogopogo Rotary Club and a Central Okanagan Foundation Endowment Fund.

CRIS’s volunteers are trained in-house from the program volunteer stage. Due to the responsibility, leaders are trained especially to lead and implement trip plans to ensure group safety, adhere to safety protocols, and manage risk. Volunteer BC offers several Risk Management Resources here.

Volunteer Management Challenges During the Pandemic

Sarah training to be a CRIS Volunteer Trip Leader with one of CRIS’ youth clients on a chilly January night at Telemark Nordic Ski Club in West Kelowna.

The pandemic hit many organizations hard, and CRIS is no exception. One of the Society’s more significant challenges was volunteer training, as they couldn’t gather large in-person groups during the pandemic. However, they overcame this challenge by transitioning part of their training online via Thinkific. The Society still uses the platform as it allows new volunteers to do the online portion of the training at their own pace and allows the in-person training to be more focused and smaller in group size. Due to the benefits of this pandemic change, the Society is still using Thinkific to streamline training.

Still, the Society thrived, creating a full schedule of weekly programs instead of one-off trips. This advancement was made possible by their transition to the volunteer management system BetterHelp, which allows volunteers to sign up for various trips in one go.

Additionally, despite having to decrease group sizes due to the pandemic, the Society has been able to offer consistency for both its participants and volunteers.

Learn more about CRIS here.

Need resources to help you jump-start your organization after Covid-19? Visit our Resources To Help You Restart After Covid-19.

Are you looking for volunteer opportunities? Visit Volunteer Now – Volunteer BC’s online volunteer posting and recruitment tool.

CRIS’s NVW Photo Highlight

Check out CRIS’s #NVW2022PhotoContest entry.

CRIS Volunteers ensure as many participants as possible get out on our cycles! We love a big group traveling down Mission Creek Greenway in Kelowna.

The photo was taken at Mission Creek Greenway, Kelowna, during one of CRIS Adaptive Adventures weekly morning cycles. Adaptive Adventures is a branch of CRIS that offers urban daytime outdoor recreation programs for people with any kind of disability of any age within Central and North Okanagan. As seen in the photo, the activity uses some of CRIS’s adaptive cycles – you can see the rest of the Society’s adaptive equipment here.

Within Adaptive Adventures – volunteers help participants get on and use the Society’s adaptive equipment, including piloting their tandem recumbent cycles on trips (as seen on the left of the photo), riding alongside for safety, and interacting with participants. Beyond the basic experience, CRIS provides social interaction, which is one of the reasons participants sign up for trips with CRIS.

If you’d like to see more pictures from CRIS’s trips, take a look at their gallery!

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