Chrissie Gertzen enjoys volunteering for the Williams Lake Stampeders, and can be seen at home games helping out as she was here at the season opener Saturday, Oct. 16. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Chrissie Gertzen enjoys volunteering for the Williams Lake Stampeders, and can be seen at home games helping out as she was here at the season opener Saturday, Oct. 16. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

OUR HOMETOWN: Community connector

Chrissie Gertzen enjoys volunteering in Williams Lake

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught Chrissie Gertzen one thing, it is that she relies on volunteering to connect with people in the community.

In her sixth year of volunteering with the Williams Lake Stampeders, she said is very happy to have a hockey season this year.

“Volunteering gets you out there and it’s just something I’m happy to be doing. I’m happy we are back in the arena. I missed that piece. I missed the volunteering, I missed the people. I missed the chaos. You miss all of that when you don’t have it.”

Her role on the board is to help with sponsorships, ensure there are enough volunteers and run the game script

“That’s why you see me running around like a chicken making sure that all of the non-hockey stuff — the draws, the anthem singers, all that stuff happens. It’s kind of like doing a show right?”

In addition to the directors, about 16 volunteers help out at each home game, she said.

The majority of her volunteer time for the Stampeders is spent in the six weeks leading up to the season, when she is finding sponsors, companies to donate give-aways, wrangling volunteers and organizing team merchandise.

“Mostly, once the season starts, I just run the home games.”

When asked if she ever goes on the road with the team, she replied, ‘no,’ although she has driven up to Quesnel to watch a few games and support the Stampeders.

“A bus full of sweaty boys, I don’t know,” she said, chuckling. “I know what that locker room smells like.”

READ MORE: Williams Lake Stampeders opener sees Quesnel rivals net a 5-4 win

Born and raised in Williams Lake, she left the community to pursue a psychology degree in Prince George and upon graduation worked as a social worker there.

Eventually she and her sister Janna Gertzen returned home to Williams Lake where they co-owned the Dairy Queen for nine years before moving on to open a Poppy Home downtown in 2019.

It was her aunt Karen Gertzen, secretary and treasurer for the Stampeders, who inspired Chrissie to become a volunteer.

“My aunt was in the Dairy Queen one day and she was trying to do the sponsorship packages but they were really shorthanded so I got my sister Janna, my dad and myself to help her out. That kind of led to being on the board of directors and six years later here we are.”

Today both her sister and her dad, Randy Gertzen, continue to volunteer with the Stampeders as well.

Chrissie played several sports growing up and even figure skated, but never played hockey.

More recently she volunteered for the Indoor Rodeo one year and the Downtown Street Party, plus joined the board of directors of Thunder Mountain Speedway because she has started racing herself.

“I’ve done three seasons now of racing so it’s fairly new to me still and this was my first year of being on the board.

“I love those guys. They have been super supportive, especially in something like racing that is normally male dominated, it’s nice that they treat me like one of the guys. I appreciate that a whole bunch.”

At Poppy Home, community support has been fabulous during the pandemic, and she’s witnessed a strong interest for shopping local, she added.

“The difficult part is getting products on the shelf like everywhere else because we deal in things like stainless steel or silicone. Those are two of the big shortage areas. We are lucky we have a lot of Canadian vendors, so in that way I’ve been able to keep some things on the shelves.”

Chrissie’s leisure time is spent travelling the world, camping and venturing into the forest on her ATV.

“I’ve done lots of RZR (ATV) stuff in the last couple of years because with COVID there hasn’t been much else to do.”

READ MORE: CASUAL COUNTRY 2019: Family ventures keep Gertzens together

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