Station 20 Salish Seas
Station 50
Station 37 Sooke
Stationt 14 Gibsons
October 17th, 2007
October 17th, 2007

Encouraged to help

While North Van´s Randy Strandt has always volunteered, his company KPMG is giving its workers a day off work to give back.

Randy Strandt´s wife is very understanding when he just wants to stay home some Friday nights.

While it may seem like he´s just spending a night in with the family - and that may be the case too - he does have ulterior motives.

He needs to be near his home in North Vancouver´s Parkgate area - and close to a 30-ft yellow and red boat moored by the Deep Cove Yacht Club.

Because when his pager beeps, the volunteer Coast Guard Auxiliary member has to be out the door and on duty in 15 minutes.

“Once you´re on the pager, you´re tied to the boat,” explained Strandt, a Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer for almost six years now and pacific region vice president.

Originally from Vancouver Island, Strandt comes from a family with strong volunteering roots.

His father and brother were both volunteer firefighters, and that´s what Strandt did too when he looked to give back to his community.

“It seemed a normal thing to do that,” he said.

But when he moved to the North Shore, Strandt found no volunteering opportunities in the fire fighting field.

While others may turn to volunteering at their local food bank or putting in time in their child´s soccer association, Strandt decided to give his sea legs a try.

Until he joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Strandt said he´d never done any boating.

“More and more our crews are coming from a non-marine background,” Strandt said, adding, “All the training you need is provided.”

First living in West Vancouver, Strandt signed up with the unit.

He moved to the U.K. briefly while working with international accounting firm KPMG and returned to the North Shore in 2005, to a job at the company´s Burnaby office and a North Van home and transferred to the Deep Cove unit.

He´s one of more than 20 members on call on weekly rotations, and is one of six coxswains, team leaders who command the other members on a boat and handle navigation.

Looking back, Strandt said his involvement in fire fighting and then the coast guard auxiliary was partly because of the thrill.

“There´s definitely excitement (in fire fighting) and this is the same, the pager goes off and there´s adrenaline,” Strandt said. “But that wears off pretty quickly ... Three hours on the water and you´re searching and searching, that´s not adrenaline keeping you going. You want to help.”

On an annual basis, Strandt estimates the Deep Cove unit will receive about 25 calls that span helping out boaters with mechanical problems, responding to sinking vessels, and taking paramedics up Indian Arm to homes accessible only by water.

The calls can come in at any time, and Strandt said his wife and employer are both very understanding when he has to go.

“I don´t think I´ve ever had to leave a client situation,” Strandt said.

But Strandt added he´s left the table at family dinners and walked out of movies before to answer calls.

From his company, Strandt received a CEO Community Excellence Award last year for his volunteer work, earning a $1,000 donation to the coast guard auxiliary unit in his name.

Strandt said KPMG not only supports his volunteer work, but encourages it too.

“We´re all accountants, we do quite well... and at some point we should do something to give back to our community,” Strandt said.

Starting next week, KPMG employees, including Strandt at the company´s Vancouver and Burnaby offices are taking part in a country-wide volunteer initiative where the company pays them a day´s work to volunteer at a local charity.

Last year, more than 3,000 employees volunteered at 100 organizations across Canada. Strandt´s looking forward to putting in a day´s hard work at the Vancouver Food Bank.

By Daniel Pi
Staff Reporter
North Shore Outlook

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