In addition to volunteering with the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society, Brenda M’Clellan is also an avid curler and supporter of the Friends Abreast dragon boat team. (Contributed)

In addition to volunteering with the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society, Brenda M’Clellan is also an avid curler and supporter of the Friends Abreast dragon boat team. (Contributed)

Hometown Hero: Salmon Arm Folk Music Society volunteer finds joy in sharing her expertise

‘It’s one of those things; you get asked to get involved’

Barb Brouwer

Contributor

Brenda M’Clellan may be retired, but she is putting her many skills to good use in the community.

Nominated as a Hometown Hero by Holly Ketter, volunteer and grant coordinator with the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society, M’Clellan puts in many volunteer hours with several area groups.

“She consistently goes above and beyond for us at SAFMS and the community, and we are deeply touched by her fierce commitment to SAFMS,” said Ketter in her nomination, noting M’Clellan has been instrumental in its overall success and perseverance over the last two years. “I am very fortunate to work with such a genuinely kind person who has a remarkable level of skill.”

M’Clellan has volunteered on the SAFMS Board since 2015 and is the current chair of the finance committee (treasurer) as well as a member of the audience education and scholarship committees.

Kimm Magill-Hofmann says M’Clellan has been instrumental in helping her to learn her role as board chair and understanding the financial and business side of the folk music society.

M’Clellan is a certified general accountant. And, although she never worked in an accounting firm, she used the knowledge she acquired by completing a BSc, MBA and by earning the CGA designation in a long career as a project manager for Trans Mountain Pipeline.

As well as being a supervisor of scheduling, M’Clellan was “director of regulatory,” which entailed making all financial and project information understandable and reporting it to the National Energy Board.

“I had a wealth of opportunity to be involved with all aspects of the company,” she said, noting that while working at Trans Mountain she was seconded as project manager for a major Shell Canada pipeline.

“I have a general sense of making things understandable and getting them in the right spot,” she said. “If it doesn’t make sense to me, I go to talk to other professionals in the accounting world to get their opinion.”

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M’Clellan and her husband moved to Salmon Arm in 2013 and she began volunteering as a way to meet people.

Because her mom had breast cancer and she knew a few people who paddled, M’Clellan joined the Friends Abreast team as a supporter.

Curling is a sport M’Clellan enjoys and her volunteerism there began through her husband who is a curling official.

“It’s one of those things; you get asked to get involved,” laughed the Curl BC governor. “I was on the board for 10 years in Calgary’s North Hill Curling Club and in Salmon Arm I organized the UA Teens provincial championship.”

McClellan says she had been concerned about the local club’s financials because they didn’t make sense to her. Not only did she help with that, she prepares the financials for club gaming grants.

In 2014, folk music society director Ian McDiarmid asked M’Clellan to help ROOTSand BLUES Festival office manager Cindy Diotte.

“It was the year of transition and it was terrifying,” she recalled. “The artistic director left and Cindy had basically been tasked with everything in the office.”

M’Clellan says she had no idea what McDiarmid meant by helping, so she swept floors and did whatever else Cindy asked her to do.

“Then I discovered nobody knew how to complete the grants that were due in the fall,” she said, pointing out there was very little documentation available on what information was required.

“I spent thousands of hours putting together all the grants and basically making sure that supporting financial documents were included with every grant application.”

While she understands the value of her work, M’Clellan says bookkeeper Jenna Stewart’s help is invaluable.

“She does all the numbers work and I can’t tell you how supportive she is with all the crazy stuff I ask her.”

Travel and golf are other passions M’Clellan likes to indulge when she is not volunteering.

M’Clellan, who volunteers based on seeing a need or being asked to help, encourages others to do the same.

“Get involved in the community in any way that you can, simply for fun, for helping or sharing your expertise,” she suggested. “At the end of the day, you have to enjoy it.”


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