LOCAL HERO: Very involved UBCO student tackles gender discrimination, homelessness
KELOWNA – While being a full-time management student at UBC Okanagan keeps Kelly Taverner busy as is, she devotes any time she’s not doing school work to a variety of causes.
“I go out onto the streets every Sunday with my roommate and we do a nighttime outreach,” says Taverner.
She’s talking about her work with H.O.P.E, an organization dedicated to helping homeless and exploited women in the Kelowna area.
“Sometimes they just want a hug, a support system. We are on a first-name basis with a lot of the women, especially those we see regularly,” says Taverner.
Taverner also works behind the scenes, revamping the organizations website, and helping with fundraising and marketing initiatives.
“She’s reliable and she’s definitely one of the people that is always going to show up and always give 100 per cent,” says Tom Macauley, president of the UBCO Students Union.
Taverner also takes on as many volunteer roles as possible on campus. The 21-year-old organizes various initiatives like 5 Days for the Homeless.
“For students to sleep outside for five nights is one thing, but she convinces other students to join them and sleep at least one or two days,” says Lecturer Norine Webster who taught Taverner at UBCO.
On top of it all, Taverner is also an elected member of student government. She works hard every day to organize events, provide resources and empower students, especially women.
“She’s definitely changed the dynamic of the union this year,” says Macauley.
One of Taverner’s goals when she was elected to the students union last May was to put on a conference, which she successfully executed on International Women’s Day earlier this month.
After eight months of planning, the Breaking Boundaries Conference was a hit.
“Being in a male-dominated office and program, women empowerment is really important to me so that’s why Breaking Boundaries was my brainchild for the last eight months,” says Taverner.
She was once a bright-eyed, bushy tailed first-year student who didn’t know how to get involved.
“She came to me out of the blue to ask about what she needed to do to run a campaign,” says Webster.
The now fourth-year student will soon be a graduate.
“Because I won’t be doing my studies anymore, I’ll have more time to focus on growing H.O.P.E…. and getting involved in other organizations,” says Taverner.
“I’ve lived in Kelowna most of my life; I’m very vested in the community here.”
While she doesn’t yet know where her professional career will take her, she’s dedicated to continuing to give back to her community and inspiring others.