By Jodie Rawn
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been that girl. You know the one – on student council, coordinator of any and all school events, active in campus life (go WLU!), member of every employee engagement committee I could find…yep, THAT girl. I was a joiner in every sense of the word.
But things changed for me in 2014 when my 22 month old niece, Hayden, was diagnosed with leukemia. My priorities shifted. Instead of channeling energy into activities, that girl spent most of her weekends in London (where Hayden lived), watched more Bubble Guppies on spotty hospital Wi-Fi than an adult without children should, and learned a whole host of medical jargon that I’m still not fully sure how to spell. (I should note that after going into remission and relapsing last fall, she underwent a stem cell transplant this past March at the incredible Sick Kids Hospital – she just celebrated her 5th birthday and gets better everyday.)
I believe that every situation offers us lessons and the past few years have provided a number of important ones for me. I learned about the unimaginable marvels of medicine. I learned that the doctors, nurses and therapists who treated her are some of the most incredible and self-less people I’ve ever met. And I learned about the power of volunteerism to change a life.
I learned this because I met people like the retired grandmother who pushed a cart stocked with coffee, hot chocolate and hand-made slippers down the hospital hall each day. People like the high school student who came in to play for an hour while mom took a break, and the incredible people at the Ronald McDonald House who made an unfamiliar building feel like a home when you couldn’t be at your real one. And you know what? These people were just as integral as any other people we met along our journey. The act of freely giving your time and energy can be such a powerful thing.
Which brings us to the world of city-building – a space that relies on people from all backgrounds investing time and energy to shape the community they want to live in. A space that wouldn’t have nearly the impact it does without volunteers. In honour of last weeks National Volunteer Week we want to take a few more moments to recognize some of the amazing people who make our work possible. While the week has officially wrapped up, we want to take a few more moments to thank some of the amazing people who volunteer their time and energy with us. This includes:
- Our incredible CivicAction and CivicAction Leadership Foundation board of directors for their guidance, wise advice and constant support;
- Our awesome ELN executive team who invest significant amounts of time to plan events, curate opportunities and broadly represent the voice of rising leaders;
- The many senior leaders who mentor and advise the next generation of leaders through our DiverseCity Fellows and Emerging Leaders Network programs; and
- The many rising leaders who inspire us every day with their ideas, passion and enthusiasm (yes, I’m talking to you!).
It’s been said that “volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy…when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”. Thanks to all those who vote with their feet and make our organization, our community and our region better each and every day. We couldn’t do what we do without you.
Managing Director, CivicAction Leadership Foundation
PS – If you’re looking for a new opportunity or seeking suggestions on how to get started, visit Volunteer Toronto or check out the opportunities included regularly in the monthly ELN newsletter!