the many faces of volunteerism

The Canadian Freelance Guild Transitional Board comprised of members from PWAC and CMG-Freelance, pictured in Toronto, February, 2020. Front row, Left to Right: Anna Bianca Roach, CMG-Freelance Toronto, Trudy Kelly Forsythe, PWAC Atlantic RD, Christine Peets, PWAC Past President and Interim ON-RD, Kathe Lieber, PWAC Historian and QC-RD, Doreen Pendgracs, PWAC President and Co-Chair, Transitional Board, Lisa Caroglanian Dorazio, PWAC BC-RD.  Back row: Scott Edmonds, CMG-Freelance Treasurer, George Butters, VP CMG-Freelance, David Petrie, PWAC Administrator, Paul Verhaegh, PWAC RD for Prairies & North, Ellen Michelson, Former PWAC ON-RD, Don Genova, CMG-Freelance President, CFG Organizer and Co-Chair Transitional Board, Carmel Smyth, CMG President, and Gerry Whelan, CMG-Freelance Atlantic Rep. This is a great representation of the many faces of volunteerism! Thanks to Lisa for coordinating this photo of the happy group of volunteers.     


This week’s post celebrates the spirit of volunteerism. Volunteers are saluted annually during National Volunteer Week (this year April 18-24, 2021) and Volunteer Recognition and Appreciation Day which is celebrated annually on April 20th. International Volunteers Day is celebrated this year on December 5, 2020. It’s nice to see so many days set aside to honour the great work volunteers are doing in their communities, and around the world–particularly in times of need or crisis as we are currently experiencing in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This an update of a popular post I wrote several years ago on the importance of volunteering and helping causes or groups you believe in. Pictured above is the past District Director for District 64 Toastmasters, Thecla Athayde, who like many other Toastmasters, has spent many hours per week volunteering on behalf of Toastmasters International.


This is me in November, 2018, with Edmonton Centre Member of Parliament Randy Boissonault, who was a member of the Heritage Committee and spoke passionately in favour of the rights of writers in relation to copyright reform.

Volunteerism has always played a huge role in my life. In recent years, I spent an enormous amount of time volunteering on behalf of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), which has now dissolved and merged with the Canadian Media Guild’s Freelance Branch to form the Canadian Freelance Guild (CFG.) In my role as national President of PWAC I had the opportunity to be involved in many exciting and important activities that affect freelance writers across Canada. That has involved more than one trip to Ottawa to make presentations to Parliamentary Committees on the labour movement and the importance of copyright to writers and the creative community.


You can see PWAC Prairies and North Regional Director Paul Verhaegh on the screen to the left as he made his presentation to the Heritage Committee via a live video presentation, November, 2018.

Volunteerism has many faces, and can be of benefit to us–personally and professionally–with implications that can be immediate, longlasting or both. Volunteering for Toastmasters is something that has also taken an important role in my life. Toastmasters helps me personally and professionally, and is something that has played an integral part of my life since joining Toastmasters International in 2001.


One of the highlights of my life of volunteerism was when we received the charter for our Toastmasters in the Arts Club in 2013. After a year of hard work, we finally did it, and became an official club of Toastmasters International. The club is still thriving eight years later.

In this post, I thought it would be fun for us to reflect back on some of the most meaningful, unusual or memorable moments in volunteerism that have blessed our lives.

I have two most memorable occasions that are entirely different. One good to great! And the other … not so good. To start with the positive, one of the most memorable volunteer roles I’ve had was as part of the media team for the 1999 Pan Am Games that were held in Manitoba. As I lived right next door to Birds Hill Provincial Park, I volunteered to work at the equestrian events being held in the park.

There were journalists from all over the Americas, and it was our job to be sure they had everything they needed, help them arrange interviews with anyone they wanted to meet, etc. I was teamed with Heidi Bock of Winnipeg, someone I became quite good friends with during the process.

                                                                Heidi (left) & I doing our thing at the 1999 Pan American Games held in Manitoba in 1999.

volunteer experiences come in all shapes and colours

The not-so-good volunteer experience that will always be lodged in my memory (and was fodder for my book on volunteerism, “Before You Say Yes …”) occurred when I was on a small board for an arts group. We were in the midst of a meeting, and our executive director (who had a very volatile personality) became enraged at something one of the directors had said, rose to her feet, threw her chair against the wall and stormed out of the meeting room, never to be seen again! Needless to say, that moment left us all quite dumbfounded, and left the organization without staff and in quite the bind. What a learning experience that was!

Some of the most meaningful volunteer work I’ve done are the years I spent serving as shop steward, contract negotiator, and president of our component within a provincial union. Unions have amazing training programs. They taught me all about leadership, how to be a good listener and how to be confident in my position. That work helped form the core of the person I am today. And I hope I helped a lot of my co-workers along the way. It’s interesting that more than 30 years later, my life  came full circle and I was once again in a leadership position within the labour movement via the CFG. (See photo at top of post.)

That leaves the unusual category to ponder.  I didn’t have to go as far back in my memory banks to find that one! In 2009 I was Mrs. Santa at the Matlock Recreation Club–quite the stretch for someone who has never had any children, and who has probably held no more than a dozen babies in her arms throughout my entire lifetime! (See photo below.)

volunteering helps us grow

But that’s what volunteerism enables and encourages us to do. To step outside our comfort zones and to do things that will help others, make the world a better place and bring smiles to the faces of others.

Now it’s your turn! Please share some of the most memorable, meaningful, or unusual moments you have experienced in your roles as a volunteer.

I look forward to hearing your stories. Some of my friends have done volunteering abroad and really enjoyed it. Have you had an opportunity like this? Please share your thoughts and experiences. I’d love to hear them.

We can all learn from and be inspired by the experiences of others.  Remember to thank your favourite volunteer on Volunteer Appreciation Day, all week during National Volunteer Week, on International Volunteer Day held December 5th, and always. Let’s celebrate all the incredible volunteers in our lives. Send them a virtual hug and thank them for all they do. I guarantee you they will thank you for it, as it truly is nice to be appreciated. 😊

My late husband Reg wasn’t a big volunteer. But he sure loved playing Santa and goofing around with the kids large and small.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

78 Responses

  1. Greg Werks says:

    Volunteerism doesn’t have to be limited by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, there are limitless ways in which such volunteerism can be achieved to enrich our lives and our community.

  2. Bev Phillips says:

    Thanks for reposting this evergreen topic, Doreen. You and I met 30-ish years ago while volunteering for a business women’s organization, and now we often connect through Toastmasters. I’ve gained a lot of skills and knowledge through my involvement with those two groups, as well as an editors’ association and an international travel and friendship group. When you volunteer to publish a regular club newsletter, you have to hone your rapid research and writing skills! I still get huge satisfaction from giving useful feedback to new Toastmasters just starting their speaking journeys. We start volunteering to help others, but we inevitably derive a lot of benefits ourselves from the experience. My best wishes to all the volunteers out there!

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Bev. Isn’t it amazing how we meet some of the nicest people while volunteering? I can truly say that some of the people that have had the biggest influence on my life over the past 30+ years have been people I’ve met while in various volunteer roles. And, yes. You’re so right in that when we’re in the right volunteer roles, we get as much–if not more–out of our volunteer tasks than the effort we put in.

  3. Peter Johansen says:

    I met my wife, Oxana, when we both volunteered back in the 1980s as board members for the Ottawa chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, a professional organization for PR and marketing communications professionals. By the time we married, she was President (yes, I slept my way to the top). The following year, her successor as President married another volunteer that he met on the IABC board. Though I continue to volunteer — now at a seniors recreation centre in Ottawa called Abbotsford House — I have yet to beat that particular volunteer benefit. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi and thanks so much for your comment, Peter. Yes, one of the benefits of volunteering is definitely the opportunity to make new friends and possibly even find that special someone as you did. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think that continuing to find different volunteering opportunities as we go through life keeps things exciting.

  4. Nice update on this post, Doreen. I’ve had great, good, and not-so-good experiences as a volunteer for various organizations but most have them have been wonderful because of the people I’ve met, and worked with, and the friends that I’ve made. Probably one of the highlights and pay-offs was the opportunity to go to an International Girl Guide camp in England in 1992. It was extraordinary to see how world-wide this organization for girls and women truly was. We had so much fun learning from each other. One of the most poignant moments was hearing “Taps” sung in different languages as each group took turns singing this song that always closed our campfire meeting. I am still friends with two of the English women I met on that trip. Each volunteer experience has had its challenges but they’ve always been outweighed by the rewards and how much I’ve learned.

    • Hi and thanks so much for your comment, Christine. Yes, attending international conferences can be so amazing! I attended an international convention for Toastmasters a number of years ago and it sure gave me greater insight into the massiveness and global impact of the organizations. Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week to you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Terrific post. Volunteering makes the world go round. It would be a very dark place indeed, without good people supporting community.

  6. susan gill says:

    I believe that volunteering can be one of the most rewarding experience a person can have. I started volunteering as young mother for groups my children were in. It just seems to have carried on and I do not remember a time I wasn’t involved in something. These days my heart is with the Christmas Cheerboard. I do some jobs through the year for them but November ,December and part of January are full time with some 12 hour days 7 days a week.
    I have made life long friends through the different organizations I have volunteered with. Hopefully along the way I have helped someone. I truly believe I am a better person because of volunteering.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Sue. I know what a dedicated volunteer you are and truly believe that volunteering makes us better people. Happy Volunteer Appreciation Day! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Maria says:

    Your view on ethnically volunteering is great. Going to pin this article, feel others can get benefits from it, too.

  8. Jean Carol says:

    Your view on ethnically volunteering is great. Going to pin this article, feel other can get benefits too.

  9. Phoenicia says:

    Wow – you have undertaken a lot of volunteering Doreen. You look quite the part playing Mrs Santa. It is great you are sharing the ‘good’ and ‘not so good’ experiences of volunteering as it gives a true perspective.

    I have volunteered as:
    Helpline worker for victims of crime
    Youth leader
    Junior editor
    Women’s leader
    Radio host’s assistant

    I have learnt much in my years of volunteering. It has helped me to take the focus off of myself and place it on others. There are many causes and many people who require our skills, expertise and care. It feels great to freely give and bless!

  10. Bola says:

    Hi Doreen. You are doing a great job volunteering. One way I volunteer is by taking people an friends to church whhich I found meaningful and rewarding.

  11. brainlinx says:

    What a great & timely post, Doreen. (Obvious from the response, eh?)

    Most of my volunteering has been neighborhood related. Since I detest meetings, I struggle with most volunteer opportunities, so I look for the outdoor variety which challenge my ever-expanding body. I do a lot of trail work in Wilderness Areas during the summer. And throughout the season I help the Idaho Fish & Game with a variety of tasks like planting sagebrush & bitterbrush in burned areas to jump start wildlife habitat.

  12. Love this, “To step outside our comfort zones and to do things that will help others, make the world a better place and bring smiles to the faces of others.” How perfect that sentiment is. My recent experience is helping my friend Carol sell baskets made by women in the DR Congo (If I can include it, the Facebook page is “weaving healing hearts together.”) We attend crafts fairs and church benefits, tell the story of these brave survivors and we love that 100% of the profits return to them.

  13. Thanks for updating this post Doreen. You are indeed a volunteer-extraordinaire! I continue to expand my knowledge through my volunteer work with PWAC and I’ve added being a volunteer group fitness leader, which has not only improved both my physical and mental well-being but given me the opportunity to make more friends. As others have said, and you’ve demonstrated, you often get more than you give when you become a volunteer.

    • Thanks for your comment, Christine. Yes, I consider volunteering to be a lifelong endeavour. There are so many ways to incorporate it into our lives and help make the world a better place. Thanks for your efforts on behalf of PWACV and Canadian freelance writers. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…the many faces of volunteerismMy Profile

  14. Linda Paul says:

    What a great & timely post, Doreen. (Obvious from the response, eh?)

    Most of my volunteering has been neighborhood related. Since I detest meetings, I struggle with most volunteer opportunities, so I look for the outdoor variety which challenge my ever-expanding body. I do a lot of trail work in Wilderness Areas during the summer. And throughout the season I help the Idaho Fish & Game with a variety of tasks like planting sagebrush & bitterbrush in burned areas to jump start wildlife habitat.

    Probably most rewarding for me is donating blood. That is something I have done since I was 19 years old and I figured it was the only thing I had to donate because I sure didn’t have any money to spare! To date I’ve given almost 15 gallons of red liquid gold.

    • That is so cool, Linda! It’s amazing how much blood one can donate during the course of a lifetime! I think it’s great that you volunteer based on your passions and deliberately avoid opportunities you know you won’t enjoy. That is the key to successful volunteering. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…the many faces of volunteerismMy Profile

  15. David Petrie says:

    Hi Doreen,

    I’ve had the privilege of being a volunteer for an association building an arts centre in Durham Region, a national association of managers (on both the chapter and national boards) and an association that provided training to people who were unemployed or wanting to make a career change, so I know what volunteers give and how they benefit. It’s a great experience, and I encourage anyone who’s thinking of it to step up!

    In my work life, as a consultant I have worked with many volunteer boards to help them develop strategic plans and most recently, I’ve been able to work as paid staff for multiple non-profits and charities (including PWAC). As a result, I know just how vitally important the work of volunteers is and I’d like to say “thank you” to all the volunteers I’ve had the opportunity to serve over the years – your unstinting giving of your time, effort, expertise and insight contributes to your communities, makes my life as a manager easier, and – hopefully – pays dividends for you in terms of experience and new skills. Thanks for everything you do, and a special appreciation to the Boards of the Professional Writers Association of Canada, the Canadian Brownfields Network, the Canadian Association of Women in Construction and the Door & Hardware Institute of Canada!


  16. Beverly says:

    Thanks, Doreen, for reminding us of the importance of volunteers. Thanks for your many instances of volunteerism.

  17. Stephanie says:

    Great topic, Doreen! I’d have to say that my most memorable volunteer experience was the first time I canvassed for the Lung Association. One of the homes I stopped at was on a large corner lot and was so huge I thought it was a duplex. I was very embarrassed when the same fellow answered the second door I knocked on ๐Ÿ˜ฎ The most unusual experience occurred when I worked bingos as a fundraiser for one of the sports a child was involved with (It’s terrible that I can’t now recall which sport or which child. Those were the blur years.) The extreme lengths patrons would go to in decorating their table space seemed unusual. Troll dolls were a favorite accessory. As for the most meaningful experience, it was when I went with my church group on a “homeless for a night” event in downtown Edmonton. The things I saw, the way I was treated by shopkeepers and the police we encountered, the invisible lines drawn upon the cityscape, the beauty amidst squalor, the degradation amidst hope… It was an experience that changed me. My mind and heart came alive to social justice issues as a result.

  18. My volunteering has been very sporadic over the years. But I have a couple of things on the horizon that have attracted my attention and are places I think I can do some good. I’ll keep you posted. I have to check out your book–the things I don’t know about you!

  19. Volunteering with Red RIver North Tourism in a leadership role has meant never having to wonder about what to do with my spare time! It’s been challenging, rewarding, frustrating… all of that and more. But now in a lesser role, as we move into a new phase of the organization, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to stretch myself, to learn, to meet new people and have a great reason to be a local tourist myself! Who needs Sudoku when there are real-life puzzles to solve? DItto for my nine years with Bed and Breakfast of Manitoba….In both cases, the volunteer work dovetailed with my actual business, and the many crossovers informed the efforts of both the volunteer organizations and my own enterprise. So, enriching in different ways….

  20. Emily says:

    My goal is to travel overseas to volunteer to help with wildlife such as the turtles in Costa Rica and the elephants in Thailand (once I have enough money!). I think volunteering can be such an amazing and personally fulfilling experience and I cannot wait to do it.

    • I hope you get to reach your volunteering goals, Emily. But if money is an issue, why not start with something closer to home that will still have the nature focus you are looking for? Does your home zone have a Volunteer Centre you could visit, to find out what the opportunities are in your area? That’s always a good place to start when you are new at volunteering.
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  21. Volunteering is so important. There are some downsides. The worse time I had as a volunteer, was being treated as a volunteer. As if what I did, was trivial, and you could get anyone else to do it.
    But, on the other hand, I did not do it to get a good supervisor; it was to help others. So I guess putting up with a poor supervisor was not that bad.

    • Thanks for your comment, William. Yes, that is the unfortunate part of volunteering. Sometimes, we have to deal with people who have very big egos, and they are in it for themselves. Not to help anyone else. When you encounter that kind of situation, it’s always best to try and distance yourself from the person with the ego. Either by moving onto a different committee, or area of involvement where you do not have to directly engage with that person. Or, to take your talent and efforts and bring them to another organization where you will not have to deal with that individual.
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  22. This is a topic dear to my heart! Iโ€™ve volunteered and served on many nonprofit boards over the years but there are two occasions that stand out in my mind. There was the first time I chaired the Maui County Food Drive. The food bank was literally on the verge of closing, so the pressure was tremendous. Thankfully, my employer got behind me 100%. I really stretched myself in so many ways during that event, speaking to service organizations, doing radio interviews and organizing competitions between the resorts. Best of all we raised a record amount of food and monetary donations.

    The other event had to do with the patients still living in Kalaupapa (the former Leper Colony) on Molokai. The mayor wanted to bring over those who were able to move around pretty good to attend the county fair, but the committee struggled to come up with the funding. Through my travel industry contacts, I arranged for their flight and hosted the group for a private breakfast at the aquarium where I worked. Friends of mine played music and we danced hula and sang Hawaiian songs. It was tremendous and to this day I still receive letters from some of the people in that group.

  23. Kim Hruba says:

    Wow, Doreen!

    I enjoy volunteering with the Women of Today and with Toastmasters. These organizations help me to serve and to grow. In fact, the Women of Today values are: service, growth and fellowship. I certainly experience these three things in both of these worthy organizations. Anything that is about empowerment, positivity and passion (my Red Shoes values) โ€“ I am in.

    I’m the person who says, “I have an idea.” Run! LOL!!

  24. It’s nice to see that so many people have volunteered for a long time, and have almost forgotten about it. Volunteering comes naturally to some people, and I think I’m one of them. I had to think back, but I think my first volunteer gig was as a “helper” at a day camp when I was a young teen, which made me want to work with young children. I was asked to be a volunteer reporter for my high school and submit regular columns to a local newspaper, which led to a career as a writer. I’ve volunteered for different organizations involving children and the writing/publishing industry, but I don’t think I’ve had as much fun with my volunteer work as I do now. That’s largely due to the people I’ve met along the way, including you, and some who’ve commented on this blog post. It’s so true that you get more than you give when you volunteer and what goes around, comes around, 10-fold. Thanks for this wonderful post, Doreen. I never knew about your gig as Mrs. Claus. You made a good one, and I’m sure the kids all loved you. Cheers!

    • Thx so much for your thoughtful response, Christine. Yes, I think that volunteers are the best people! They seem to be warmer, more sensitive, and caring. I’m so glad that our volunteer work for PWAC has brought us together. See you next month at the conference!

  25. Phoenicia says:

    Inspiring post Doreen! There is much to be gained from volunteering; offering your service and adding to your skills and expertise.

    I have worked as volunteer in a number of roles. My most memorable have been;

    Junior Editor for a Jamaican newspaper – interviewed artists and people of influence. I wrote articles, many of which were published.

    Helpline Adviser for Victim Support – offered advice to victims of crime. I was able to use my core listening skills which were developed during my counselling course.

    Youth Leader – worked with a mixed group of young people aged 12 to 18. I ran workshops, discussion groups, organised day trips and youth camps. It certainly made me feel young again!

    Cell leader at church- I lead a small group of women who join together weekly to read scriptures, share testimonies, fellowship and pray for one another. We celebrate birthdays and go for occasional meals.

  26. Catarina says:

    Volunteering is important, especially for any cause to do with human suffering. Unfortunately I don’t have time at the moment though. Have som much to do some days I feel guilty when I need to take the time to have a shower.

    • I hear you, Catarina. There are times in our lives when we really are just too busy to volunteer. But there will be times when you can fit it back into your life, and I’m sure you will.

  27. I think the Rotary motto “Service Above Self” summarizes volunteerism so well. There is no greater endeavour than helping others. But, there’s no denying that although you do it for others, it benefits you as well. It makes you a better person. It opens your eyes. It makes you see that there is so much more you can do. It makes you want to do more. Volunteering has been a huge part of my life and will continue to be so.

  28. Beverly says:

    I am so glad we have volunteers like you, Doreen!

  29. Kate Roed says:

    Hi Doreen, I like to help people and support endeavours that help the community. For me it has been a way to participate behind the scenes, and get things done. I have always believed in ‘pay it forward’. But…..
    Volunteers need to be recognized for their efforts. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, a simple thank you goes a long way. If they offer to help with a project, a program or selling tickets for example, the organizer needs to follow through and not leave their people hanging.

  30. Sheryl says:

    The best volunteer experiences for me have been rooted in selfishness, that is I got something out of them, too. 1. Door to door collecting for the CDA I was helping find treatments and perhaps a cure for my son’s type 1 diabetes. 2. Costuming students for school musicals was an outlet for my creativity that allowed me to design, create and see costumes come alive as they helped the students get into character. 3. Toastmasters leadership allows me to practice public speaking and opened a door to leadership learning I never expected to enjoy (but do). I continue to learn about adult education as well.

    • Hi Sheryl and thanks for your comment. Indeed. Volunteering should always give us something in return for our dedication and hard work. That could be just a sense of well being in knowing we are doing something good. Or it can be something of a grander nature. But without volunteers, where would the world be?
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  31. Great post, Doreen! To your point, volunteering is a wonderful opportunity to give back and learn more about yourself. As a teenager I tried volunteering as a candy striper but it was not a good fit. That experience showed me that I was better suited for environments other than hospitals. I’ve had amazing experiences as a race volunteer, including a weekend-long adventure race. The other volunteers you meet are incredible people who you probably wouldn’t know otherwise. Happy Volunteer Week!

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Karen. You are a smart volunteer. We must listen to our heart, and to others in finding the right type of volunteering that best suits our needs and talent. If it’s not a good fit, move on and try something else. Happy NVW to you, too! ๐Ÿ™‚
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  32. Volunteering has been a huge part of my life probably starting without even realizing it as a Brownie since the Girl Guide movement places such a focus on service. I have gained so much from volunteering including confidence, improved communication and organizational skills and the satisfaction that comes from helping make the world a better place n- at least I hope that’s what I’ve done! Happy National Volunteer Week Doreen! Trudy.

    • Thanks so much for your wonderful comment, Trudy. There is something particularly special about people who volunteer. They seem to be more considerate, more understanding, and better listeners overall. Thanks for being one of the most dedicated volunteers that I know. ๐Ÿ™‚
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  33. Kathe Lieber says:

    Wow, this subject has really spoken to a lot of people!

    For those who may be wondering, the not-so-good experience was turned around by a dedicated group of volunteers (including me and Doreen). We learned a lot from that peculiar situation, and the organization not only survived but thrived.

    • Isn’t that true, Kathe? Sometimes, a dreadful situation can bring out the good and the strong in an organization and help it re-group and become more focused. that certainly happened (more than once!) in the association we both know and love. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. ๐Ÿ™‚
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  34. wizardofwords says:

    Hats off to you, Roswitha, for finding a wide number of volunteer opportunities that enable you to help others while maintaining your own cultural heritage. The best of both worlds!

    The world could use more dedicated individuals like you! Thanks for sharing your story. And for being persistent enough to get your comment to load. (Roswitha had had trouble getting her comment to upload, proving that persistence pays off!)

  35. roswithadess says:

    I feel great honour and joy in my number one volunteer job once a week as a Goldwing Ambassador at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. My duty there is to assist customers by providing information and answering questions. It is rewarding to help people and meet passengers from all over the world. Fluency in the German language is a great asset at the Airport.

    My second joyful volunteer job is helping out twice a year at the Childrenโ€™s Hospital Book Markets at the St Vital Shopping Centre. It is important for me to contribute something for the vulnerable children who are suffering illness.

    As a volunteer Fundraiser for the German Canadian Congress (GCC) I dedicate numerous hours and much hard work toward supporting arts and education of the German language. I organize many fundraising events. In addition to much other hands-on work, I manage the Kaffee Stube at the annual Christkindlmarkt. I get satisfaction in maintaining my German language and culture.

    Another great volunteer contribution is my participation the Multiple Sclerosis. Rona Bike Tour โ€“ Biking to the Viking at the end of August for the last 6 years. I canvass to raise pledges and I cycle from Stonewall to Gimli and return to Stonewall in two days pedaling 185 KM in all sorts of weathers. Funds go the MS Society for their programs to battle MS and assist those with this illness. Iโ€™m very proud to have raised over $6,000. I have started my campaign by inviting people to contribute at pledge a cyclist .

    Iโ€™m a believer in Volunteering

    Roswitha Scharf-Dessureault

  36. Anonymous says:

    Dear Doreen.
    Wow, what a great interview with Barbara Bowes today on CJOB.

    I'm happy to hear how well you are doing with your book. I'm with the German Canadian Congress as a Volunteer and a board Director and always recommend your book to the Board as they are all Volunteers.

    I'm also a Goldwing Ambassador at the Winnipeg International Airport Community Volunteers. Your book has given me a lot of understanding as a Volunteer. You have done a great job with it.

    Your friend,
    Roswitha Scharf-Dessureault

  37. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for joining us on the blog, Grace, and for your comments.

    Sounds like you've been thru some tough times on that board, but, wow! We sure learn from those experiences, don't we?

    The key is to learn, take that knowledge with you, and use it in your next volunteer posting.

    Keep on doing it!

  38. Grace Cherian says:

    Great pictures, Doreen but how dumbfounding for all when someone picks up a chair, throws it at the wall and storms out of the meeting never to be seen again (or maybe it's just as well). I love that picture of Reg and you as Mr. & Mrs. Claus!

    I once served on the board of an agency that helped people with mental illness live fruitful lives in the community.

    One day the executive director (ED) of the organization suddenly announced that she had had been hired by another and that that would be her last board meeting. We were stunned.

    Most of us were new on the board. We went through several trying months as we interviewed candidates for the ED position while attempting to provide leadership to those who worked at the agency.

  39. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks so much, Jay. Your comment brought tears to my eyes.

    We are so lucky to have become friends.

    There's something kindred about the spirit of volunteerism. It seems to bring together the kind of people you want to be around. The positive energy fills the room, and fortunately for us (being located across the country!) even transcends cyberspace.

    May you never lose that giving and loving spirit.

  40. Jay Remer says:

    What a great way to walk down memory lane. Working with you on your book was a great privilege for me. My volunteerism began in earnest when I was 15 and I visited an old blind lady at the local convalescent home. I still remember her patience in teaching me braille and allowing me a glimpse into her soul. I think of her often, 45 years later! I have always felt compelled to devote a large portion of my life and resources to charity work. The theme of my work has always been to help the underdog. I am constantly reminded of how important such work can be when I see the organizations I have helped along the way, all in dire straights when I became involved, are all thriving. I was instrumental in getting animal assisted therapy introduced into the NY hospital system; funding the first canine blood mobile; stabilizing a national ballet company; helping at risk youth; and a variety of other causes. To brighten someone's life everyday is a choice we all can make. Thanks Doreen for your compassion and example!

  41. wizardofwords says:

    What a great story, Linda.

    It's truly amazing what an impact we can make while volunteering, and conversely what an impact others can make on us by exposing us to thoughts and situations we wouldn't otherwise encounter.

    Thanks for dropping by the blog. Please come again soon.

  42. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Bruce. Yes, your efforts in TMAC have certainly made a difference to the strength and character of the organization. (More than I can say for other similar orgs south of the border!)

    Your event planning in Yarmouth looks like there are many great things planned for this year. The Rum Run sounds like fun! Good luck with it all, and may you never lose your zest for volunteering!

  43. Bruce Bishop says:

    Happy to provide a comment on volunteering.

    My most significant role was when I began volunteering for the Travel Media Assn. of Canada in its early days. I helped find locations for the monthly meetings in Toronto; soon found myself as secretary on the Board of Directors in 1998, and was president of the national Association by 2000.

    I finished my term as president in February 2002. When I moved back to Nova Scotia in 2004, I again began volunteering for TMAC in the role of treasurer for (what is now) the Atlantic Chapter of TMAC.

    I can't tell you the number of wonderful people I have met since then thru TMAC (including you, Doreen!) – and all those volunteer hours never hurt my professional career one bit. In fact, my relationship with TMAC has always been personally and professionally beneficial.

    And now, what goes around comes around: I've taken a position as Yarmouth, Nova Scotia's "Destination Marketing Coordinator" for the town's 250th anniversary celebrations this year. And guess what? Part of my job is leading a team of about 50-75 volunteers. ๐Ÿ™‚

    See us on Facebook: Yarmouth 250 ~ The Perfect Homecoming

  44. wizardofwords says:

    Happy New Year & great to hear from you, Bev!

    We've had so many great times volunteering for Toastmasters together. You are truly an inspiration to me, and congrats again for being named the District 64 Toastmaster of the year in 2009. So truly deserved!

    And for anyone wanting to read about Bev and see her honing her skills, check out this blog post from May 3/10:

  45. Bev Doern says:

    Kudos to everyone out there who wants to help create a better world and gives their time and energy to make that happen! Being a volunteer is truly priceless – you make new friendships, acquire new skills, get to stretch and challenge yourself, and make new memories! Thanks for sharing some of your memories Doreen! It made me flash back to the Pan Am games, that lovely coral jacket, and the pride of Manitobans in welcoming so many to our province.

  46. Satinka says:

    Hi Doreen, It's so nice to see you and Reg together volunteering! Such a worthy cause. Give that lovely man of yours a great big hug from us!
    Hugs to both of you,

  47. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks, Suzanne! Always happy when people say they will reread my book. There are always new (unnoticed) tidbits that may be of help.

    But having volunteered with you over the years, I know what a conscientious volunteer you are, and that whatever job you take on, you do it with your all. Thanks for all you do on behalf of writers everywhere.

  48. Suzanne says:

    As soon as I read this I thought of one job that I will always remember – actually I did it for two different organizations. It was working phone lines, overnight, at crisis counseling centers. There was supposed to be 2 staff on at all shifts but, inevitably, I was usually alone. Imagine being on the phone try to talk someone out of committing suicide (and not really knowing if that was their intent but it's your job to take it seriously, of course). The other phone lines start ringing. You can't stop your current conversation. At the same time, what if one of those calls is also someone who is thinking about ending their life?

    Despite the stress (and I can still feel it when I write this) when I moved I did the same job in another city. But after a while it became too much for me.

    Today my volunteering is mainly for writing organizations – helping them or helping those who want to become freelance writers. It's less stressful and you can see the good that you do. But scary story about your experience with the flying chair, Doreen. I will have to be careful – perhaps re-read your book – "Before [I] Say Yes."

  49. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks so much for making contact, Heidi! It's great to stay in touch after all these years, and to hear what you've been up to. Once a volunteer, always a volunteer it seems. It's in our blood!

    Good luck with your HS reunion. Mine was last year (Vincent Massey Collegiate) and unfortunately, I had to miss it. Have fun! And please drop in here again as it's always great to hear from you.

  50. Heidi Bock says:

    SO good to hear you're still volunteering, Doreen! We had such fun at those games. I too am still at it, this time as publicist for our high school reunion. Maybe some of your readers would be interested in knowing the details:

    Winnipeg's River East Collegiate is holding its 50th Anniversary Reunion June 24 and 25. Come out and meet all your old friends and teachers at the 2-day event, which includes a Gourmet Meet and Greet at the Victoria Inn on Friday, June 24th, an Open House at the school from 1 – 3 Saturday afternoon, and a Gala Dinner and Dance with the Ron Paley Orchestra on Saturday, June 25th at the Convention Centre. MCs for the evening are REC alumni Sylvia Kuzyk of CTV and FAB 94.3's Tom Milroy. Early bird ticket prices are available until April 30th, so register now!


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