Volunteer Week 2021: Ken Ottenbreit

Volunteers are the very foundation of the parks and recreation industry, and April 18-24, 2021 is National Volunteer Week. To embrace this year’s theme - “The Value of One, The Power of Many” – we are using our Blog and social platforms to celebrate amazing volunteers like Ken Ottenbreit!

With over 20 years of experience in parks and recreation, Ken Ottenbreit is a welcome volunteer for any organization. As the former Director of Community Services for the City of Melfort, Ken has a solid understanding of Saskatchewan’s recreation community and has since transitioned to enjoying what he considers a full-time, “life of leisure” since retiring in the fall of 2014.

But Ken’s definition of a life of leisure might not sound leisurely to many! In addition to many years spent volunteering for various organizations and events, Ken has been a valuable contributor to the SPRA Board of Directors for the past six years. We sat down with Ken to ask him about his volunteering experience and what volunteering means to him.

Why did you want to volunteer on the SPRA Board?

Over the course of my career working for municipalities, I benefitted from the services and programs offered by SPRA. Over the years, I came to recognize many of the SPRA staff, not only as colleagues, but as friends. For that reason, when I retired, I felt a need to continue being involved with the Association. I also thought I had acquired skills during my career that I hoped could benefit SPRA. My involvement on the Board has been personally gratifying and allowed me to nurture professional relationships with some very talented and dedicated Board members and staff.

What other organizations have you volunteered with?

I’ve served on the organizing Committees for a number of events including the Saskatchewan Summer and Winter Games, provincial curling tankards and Special Olympics provincial bowling competitions.

I also volunteered for the CP LPGA tournament in Regina, the Western Canada Summer Games in Swift Current and Canada Games in Whitehorse and Winnipeg. 

I’ve sat on the Separate School Board in Melville for nine years and the local Church Board in Melfort. Over the years I’ve flipped burgers at Summer Fairs, Canada Day celebrations, playground program events and local fundraisers. Finally, I’ve coached or instructed fastball, gymnastics, cross country skiing and soccer.

What has volunteering given you?

Volunteering has given me a sense of worth and meaning. There’s a greater sense of intrinsic satisfaction when you volunteer of your own free will as opposed to working on a project in which you receive a wage. I have always felt greater connection and belonging to community through my involvement as a volunteer. Through volunteering, I’ve made many friendships that have lasted to this day.

What advice would you have for people who are thinking about volunteering?

Volunteering can be very helpful for a variety of reasons. For those wanting to advance their career or open the doors to a job opportunity, volunteering can provide confidence and experience.

For those who are new to a community, volunteering can be a tremendous mechanism for developing new friendships or cultivating a sense of community.

If you find yourself floundering or in a rut, find a volunteer opportunity. Volunteering has rejuvenating qualities and many people find personal satisfaction, enjoyment and meaning through contributing their time to an organization, cause or event. You may find that donating your time can be the cure or solution for many of life’s difficult situations and challenges.

Inspired by Ken’s volunteering story? Consider joining the SPRA Board of Directors! We are accepting nominations until Midnight, June 30, 2021.

To learn more, visit https://spra.sk.ca/membership/join-our-Board-of-Directors/