​Senior with the smile - Shirley Prancic

July 11.jpgShe greets everyone coming into the Kelowna CNIB office with a big smile. 77-year-old Shirley Prancic creates a sense of community no matter where she is or what she's doing.

Shirley is a dedicated volunteer, keen to take on any task. Among her numerous list of duties; answering phones, helping customers find items in the CNIB Shop, and contributing as a Philanthropy Administrative Assistant.  

Shirley came to CNIB with an impressive track record. She says, "I have been volunteering for over 60 years with a very large number of different organizations. As my life evolved, my interests, priorities and personal circumstances have lead me in different directions and dictated where I could be of help by volunteering if, and when it was needed."

Her interest in becoming part of CNIB Kelowna came from a unique experience in northern Canada. 

"I lived in the Yukon Territory in a small mining town 400 miles north of Whitehorse for 11 years and part of the mandate of the local Lions Club was to support the CNIB.  On behalf of the Lions I administered an annual walkathon for several years and during that time I met a representative of the CNIB from Vancouver, a wonderful man called George Gibbs who had very little vision. We became friends and he came to the Yukon each year to walk in the 40K walkathon which consisted of walking on unpaved roads and hilly terrain. From George, I learned that you should always remember not what you have lost but what you have left.

I have never forgotten George Gibbs. My Uncle Bill was the first person I knew as a small child who lived without sight, my best friend lost her vision 10 years ago, and throughout my life I have met many people who have visual challenges. All of those people have faced their challenges with courage and humour, and so the CNIB was a good volunteer fit for me."

In May of 2016 she finished a volunteer project with the Kelowna General Hospital and contacted the CNIB Office in Kelowna to offer her time. "I offered my talents such as they are and was warmly welcomed into the CNIB family in Kelowna.  I am a volunteer receptionist, helping clients as they come into the office or by phone helping with clerical support as needed. Also, I have been building a very large database to assist with donor contacts and volunteered with a wonderful fundraiser in February called Wine’ing' in the Dark.

At Wine’ing' in the Dark I met a young woman who was also volunteering, she has three young children, hardly any vision but exudes optimism and amazing courage. Who wouldn’t be inspired by that! So, when you volunteer you get way more back than you give!"

Shirley, who has been retired since 2000, says her volunteering is meaningful work but it's the people who keep her coming back.

"The Kelowna CNIB staff always acknowledge any small contribution that I make and I am made to feel a very valuable part of the team."