It is as sure as the return of the snow after the glow of summer — once the calendar flips over to the month of November, the annual migration of seasonal workers flock to Whistler for another ski season.
To help them settle into their new digs and feel at home in the community, Whistler Welcome Week is set to take off next week from Nov. 12 to 17. Hosted by the Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS), it is a jam-packed week of events to introduce newcomers to Whistler.
According to Davin Moore, WCSS outreach supervisor, the spirit of Welcome Week is all about giving seasonal staff opportunities to get out and meet people in an affordable way.
He pointed out the welcome dinner is particularly effective in achieving this.
The Jill Ackhurst Community Welcome Dinner will be held on Thursday (Nov. 15). The renowned event is exclusively for new seasonal workers, where celebrity Whistler chefs cook a slow-food menu featuring food grown as locally as possible. Locals are recruited to host tables of up to 10 people, allowing the opportunity to network and reveal their knowledge on Whistler.
“It gives them a connection with the community, so the seasonal workers realize there is a community here,” Moore said, adding that this is an opportunity for them to learn about Whistler in a different way, away from the bar scene.
Another effective way for newcomers to integrate with the community is through the act of volunteering, explained Jeff Slack, programs and marketing manager for the Whistler Museum.
To make volunteering more accessible, the third annual volunteer fair will take place on Tuesday (Nov. 13). Twelve local non-profit organizations will be on hand at Millennium Place to deliver information on volunteering opportunities in town. These opportunities can range from being a role model through Big Brothers and Big Sisters through to handing out food for needy residents and working in the film industry with the Whistler Film Festival.
Slack says the volunteer fair has been deemed a success since its inception, with all of the organizations recruiting new volunteers, while the volunteers themselves gain valuable experience.
“A lot of people are looking for work experience,” noted Slack, “And it does add a viable line to your resumé.”
In regards to volunteering at the museum, he said, “This is the best way to beef up your knowledge and increase your appreciation for our community heritage. A lot of people have a lot of respect for what museums do as a community resource and want to contribute in a grassroots manner.”
He added volunteer work really makes a difference in the community.
“It really has a tangible impact on our operations and on the operations of all the non-profits in our community. A lot of them wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for volunteer efforts.”
Some of those volunteer efforts amount to a seven-day-a-week commitment.
Laura Puckett is a long-term volunteer with Whistler Animals Galore (WAG), who, alongside her husband, feeds and helps with the cats daily. Upon retiring and moving to Whistler, she says she felt a strong desire to give back to the community.
“Basically, every time I go to WAG, I come away feeling good because I am helping animals, and I’m helping the staff who are working so hard and so everything I do there, I know is appreciated. And so, more often than not, I’m walking out the door ... and I’m high-fiving a member of staff or I’ve just been in one of the catteries with three kittens asleep on my lap and it’s hard to get any better than that.”
Puckett points out that volunteers of all ages lend a hand at WAG, with a few landing full-time jobs.
“Just recently a person moved from volunteer status to employee and her comment was, ‘I’ve never worked at a place where I felt a sense of purpose and this is the most important job I’ve ever had.’ Those are the kind of comments anyone who has volunteered for WAG understands completely.”
Other WCSS Welcome Week events include the Millennium Rotary pancake breakfast, a scavenger hunt, complimentary yoga sessions and the screening of the film, Superheroes of Stoke.
Go to www.mywcss.org/pages/whistler-welcome-week to find out more.