Community Champions Giving Back

A single mom at 19 years old, Jennifer Vardy depended on low-income programs in Wood Buffalo to help make ends meet.

Fast-forward nearly a decade and the married, mother of two, now donates her time back to help improve the lives of others.

“When I was able to have the opportunity to volunteer, I took it on head-on,” said Jennifer Vardy, Chair, Rural Relations and Engagement Committee.

Vardy is one of the 2,000 volunteers needed to host the Wood Buffalo 2023 Arctic Winter Games. Due to the size and complexity of the event, the Games require people to fulfill a variety of roles both before and during the Games, assisting in areas such as accommodations, food services, box office, spectator services, logistics and culture.


“Sometimes I wonder, how are we going to do this, but I know we have all the right people in place and all the supports necessary,” says Jen Kennett, Host Society Board of Director of Volunteer & Community.

From building community, making new friends and being a part of a monumental event, Kennett says there is a lot people can gain by volunteering.

“I think that when you speak to volunteers after, especially if they’re not local, they feel more connected to Fort McMurray and have something better to say.

“It’s fun. It doesn’t feel like work. You’re not going out and doing back-breaking labour, you’re going, you’re meeting people, you’re seeing people excited, you’re catching glimpses of the sporting events and you’re like ‘wow, this is really cool’, and you’re becoming a part of something.”

Each volunteer who works two shifts, approximately eight hours, will receive a uniform package, volunteer orientation, role-specific training, recognition at ceremonies, and an invitation to volunteer recognition events.

“I hope people see that volunteering isn’t a burden and I hope people get involved in more volunteer opportunities in the future,” added Kennett.


For more information on the volunteer program powered by ATCO visit

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Elizabeth Priest
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