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Volunteering at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission an eye-opening experience

Visiting Kelowna’s Gospel Mission was eye-opening for Carson Irmen.

The goaltender for the Pursuit of Excellence (POE) Midget Varsity team visited the Gospel Mission earlier this month and did volunteer work with his teammates. The goal of the Gospel Mission is to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and help however they can. POE student athletes helped by cleaning, doing laundry, washing dishes, preparing meals and running the coffee shop.

“We made sure that the community was a better place than when they arrived,” says POE coach Kevin Bathurst. “They accomplished that with hard work and a good attitude.”

Irmen, a Salmon Arm product, said the experience showed them “how good we got it.” The environment provided them a glimpse into the people’s lives at the Gospel Mission. The student-athletes interacted with the people there that day.

“It was pretty cool to talk to them,” says Irmen, who learned more about them. “It was nice to help them in their situation.”

Being in that environment provided Irmen a valuable learning lesson as he saw how thankful the people are to access and use the Gospel Mission. Irmen realized something else that he will take with him and it is “to be really thankful for what I have and to help out the people in need.”

“It is nice to help out,” he says.

Bathurst says it’s important for their program to get out into the community and get involved with different organizations that have a need – providing community service is good.

“I thought it was a good opportunity for our guys to get involved in an issue that is currently getting a lot of face time in the Kelowna community,” Bathurst says. “To see people in that environment, people in need. People living a different lifestyle than what our guys are used to, I think it opens our eyes to a different way of living.”

Bathurst felt it was really important for the student-athletes to know it exists. He was impressed by how they responded to their visit and recognized why they were there.

“Giving back to the greater community, that is key,” he says. “They need to understand and appreciate volunteer work. Trying to make their community a better place. There is a lot of value there.”