Two dedicated Okanagan Women lead the way to provide nourishment for local hungry children, one Starfish Backpack at a time.
From her early years of helping her parents with church fundraisers to her first formal volunteer work as a 14-year-old Candy Striper at St Joseph’s Hospital in Comox, Kalamalka Rotarian of the Year Carmen Heather Larsen was encouraged to give back to the community.
Her Rotarian dad, Don, a hardware store manager, and her mom, Judy, a retail worker, have been her greatest inspiration for involvement in Rotary.
“Dad was the one in his club in charge of logistics, very organized, knew how to get things done and knew the right people for the job,” says Carmen. “My mom was his right hand. She would be there to support him, help with anything she could because she also believed in the ideals of Rotary.”
Carmen spent her high school years in Courtenay, then went on to McGill to pursue a BA in Asian Studies and History. During that time, she worked at a sexual assault crisis line.
Later while completing her MEd in educational psychology and special education at UBC, Larsen spent six years as a Big Sister with Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland.
“This was the volunteer work that had the biggest effect on me,” says Carmen.