Volunteer Spotlight: Catherine Chung

Volunteer Spotlight: June 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Catherine Chung

Volunteers are vital to the success of our programs of March of Dimes Canada. We appreciate and acknowledge volunteers for all the amazing, incredible and hard work they do. Every month this year, we’ve been getting to know some of them and what they like outside of volunteering.

Meet Catherine Chung, our spotlight for June!

June Volunteer Spotlight

Name: Catherine Chung

Nominated by: Tim McCrimmon

Volunteer Position: Office Assistant

What is your favorite part about volunteering with MODC?

I really enjoy the team that I work with, and the setting of the work. I love the clerical work that I do, and feel a real sense of accomplishment from it. I also love the friends that I’ve met while I’ve been here.

What’s your favourite book?

My favorite book is a book that I read while I was a girl: Raggedy Ann

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I would love to be able to cure or reverse Diabetes.

What is their go-to dessert?

All chocolate, mint, and coffee ice creams are my favorite dessert.

What is a recent movie you watched and what score would you give it out of 10?

I recently watched The Single Moms Club. I really enjoyed it and would give it 10/10!

We asked Tim why he nominated this volunteer.

Catherine, with her dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to MODC could be considered the ideal volunteer. She is proud of what she contributes to MODC and assists across all programs. It would be hard to find another volunteer who has contributed so much to the organization with so much enjoyment.

She arrives each day with a smile on her face, and is truly part of our family here.

How long have you been an MODC volunteer?

17.5 years.

Volunteer Spotlight: Catherine Chung. Favourite Book: Raggedy Ann.

If you’d like to learn more about March of Dimes Canada’s volunteering opportunities, please visit this landing page from the website: http://bit.ly/MODCVol

Volunteer Spotlight: Mark Ewer

Volunteer Spotlight: April 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Mark Ewer

We could not do what we do without the help of volunteers. We’re happy to be celebration National Volunteer Week this month (April 15-21) and will continue to acknowledge our volunteers for all the wonderful and hard work they do.

We’re also excited to be featuring volunteer profiles this year in this community blog of ours – here’s your chance to know a little more about Mark Ewer, our spotlight for April!

Name: Mark Ewer

Volunteer Position: DesignAbility® Chairperson – Hamilton/Halton branch

What is your favorite part about volunteering with MODC?

Using my creative energy to come up with creative solutions to help people live independently.

If you read – what’s a good book you would recommend?

“Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Extreme intelligence/Creativity

What is your go-to dessert?

Chocolate Brownies

How long have you been an MODC volunteer?

15+ Years.

We asked Elaine Darling (DesignAbility®) why she nominated Mark Ewer to be a spotlight for our blog.

Mark has a huge commitment to the program, he’s very creative, and dedicated to helping people. He is truly a reflection of our organization’s mission.


Volunteer Spotlilght: Mark Ewer. Mark's book recommendation: "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson.

If you’d like to learn more about March of Dimes Canada’s volunteering opportunities, please visit this landing page from the website: http://bit.ly/MODCVol

Volunteer Spotlight: March 2018

Volunteers are vital to the success of our programs of March of Dimes Canada. We appreciate and acknowledge volunteers for all the amazing, incredible and hard work they do. This year we’re getting to know some of them a little more in these blog profiles!

Meet Darlene Johnson, our spotlight for March!

March Volunteer Spotlight

Name: Darlene Johnson

Volunteer Position: Communication Program Volunteer – ACDP Peterborough Site

What is your favorite part about volunteering with MODC?

How the clients are so motivated to improve their own communication and how they support each other through the process. I look forward to volunteering at the Peterborough Aphasia program because they provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment for clients, caregivers and the volunteers. The staff set the tone and they are knowledgeable, skilled and demonstrate respect for each individual that they encounter.

What are 3 adjectives you would use to describe yourself?

Caring, Friendly, Respectful

What is your favorite hobby?


What is your favorite TV show?

Call the Midwife (because of a Nursing background)

How long have you been an MODC volunteer?

1.5 Years

We asked Elisha and Sara why they nominated this volunteer.

“Darlene’s positive nature, energy, and welcoming attitude deserve recognition! On top of her friendly personality, she displays kindness and concern for the well-being of our clients, supporting their strengths and encouraging them to develop new skills. As staff (and I’m sure clients feel the same) we’re very fortunate to have Darlene as part of our team.”

Sara Piotrowska (Staff Partner)

Her patience and willingness to learn and use supportive communication strategies ensures that clients’ messages are expressed, all clients are engaged, and conversation is mutually beneficial. – Sara

“The first thing that strikes me about Darlene is her caring and empathetic attitude in the program. She is genuinely interested in the clients and their well-being! She actively inquires about their lives and is always supportive of their interests. She is also very patient, allowing clients to respond in their own time and always encourages them to use the strategies to support their communication. It’s very evident how much the clients appreciate Darlene’s time and effort!”

Elisha Nesci (Staff Partner)

Volunteer Spotlight: Darlene Johnson. 3 Adjectives used to describe herself: Caring, Friendly, Respectful

If you’d like to learn more about March of Dimes Canada’s volunteering opportunities, please visit this landing page from their site: http://bit.ly/MODCVol


Volunteer Spotlight: Lara Kaufman

Volunteer Spotlight: February 2018

As we continue our volunteer appreciation throughout the year, we want to reiterate: Volunteers are so important to March of Dimes Canada. Thanks to them, we’re able to do the work we do.

Meet Lara Kaufman, our spotlight for February!

February Volunteer Spotlight

Name: Lara Kaufman

Volunteer Position: Peers Fostering Hope Hospital Visitor

What is their favorite part about volunteering with MODC?

Inspiring the patients they see and giving them hope.

What are 3 adjectives that they use to describe themselves?

Outgoing, Persevering, Insightful.

What is their favorite hobby?

She loves to read.

What is their favorite TV show?


Why are you nominating this volunteer?

Stroke recovery is like climbing a mountain. It takes hard work, perseverance and patience. But the view from the top is spectacular. – Lara

Lara’s positive attitude and awareness of the challenges that someone goes through after experiencing a life changing event, enables her to really touch the hearts of the patients she visits at Toronto Rehab as part of Peers Fostering Hope (PFH). The individual Lara supports in the community as part of the Community Visiting pilot for PFH has taken steps to get out into the community more than she would have without Lara’s assistance.

According to Paul Asselin, the Social Worker she reports to when she volunteers at Toronto Rehab, “Lara has made some terrific contributions and offered a lot of support to our patients over the years. I remember not long after she started here, one patient referred to her as an angel. She has received similar compliments such as: ‘Reassuring, good to hear it from someone who’s been there,’ ‘She gave me confidence.’ etc.

What strikes me about Lara in particular is that she finds the strength to come in, even when there are so many other things going on in her life. Through all of these life events, some good and some challenging, she manages to stay focused and present when she is visiting.”

Lara exemplifies what it means to be a PFH volunteer based on the feedback she receives from patients at the hospital. I would also support what Paul Asselin has said above. She is extremely dedicated even when she has a lot of other challenges going on in her life. She also is eager to get involved in new opportunities such as when she decided to be a part of the Community Visiting pilot. Outside of MODC she is involved in many other community projects. As a UHN Patient Partner, she has served on several committees, providing the patient perspective on various initiatives. She also co-founded with stroke survivor, Dr. Howard Rocket, Rocket Ride 4 Rehab in 2015. This static cycling event raises money for the Rocket Family Upper Extremity Clinic at Toronto Rehab. Lara is very deserving of recognition. She is also respected among her peers.

– Rebecca Phinnemore, PFH Coordinator

How long have they been an MODC volunteer?

Since 2014

Volunteer Spotlight: Lara Kaufman


If you’d like to learn more about March of Dimes Canada’s volunteering opportunities, please visit this landing page from their site: http://bit.ly/MODCVol

Volunteer Spotlight: Joan Winter

Volunteer Spotlight: January 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Joan Winter

Volunteers are so important to March of Dimes Canada and we are so appreciative and thankful for their continued support and work they do for the organization. It’s true – we really cannot do what we do without them!

We thought it would be a fun way to get to know some of our volunteers by spotlighting 12 this year; one a month and with a few fun questions. Check out Joan, our January Spotlight!

January Volunteer Spotlight

Name: Joan Winter

Volunteer Position:  Chairperson and Peers Fostering Hope Volunteer

How long have you been a MODC volunteer?  7 years

What is your favorite part about volunteering with MODC?  Being able to express that there is always hope and that people need to be determined towards their recovery, which will be rewarded.

What are 3 adjectives use would use to describe yourself?  Determined, dedicated and challenged.

What is your favorite hobby?  Grandchildren is number 1, Reading, and Toast Masters.

What is your favorite TV show?  The Young and the Restless and Big Bang Theory

Erica M. nominated Joan for a volunteer spotlight. Here is why she nominated her:

We have the pleasure of working with wonderful people who donate their time to this organization every day. I wanted to highlight Joan Winter as she is determined to beat the odds. She is her own advocate and works hard towards her recovery every single day. She doesn’t let disability become a barrier. She advocates for Tai-Chi and Toast Masters; two community programs that were instrumental in her recovery. These programs have given her both focus and balance. She doesn’t let stroke define her. She would say “that being the Chairperson for the Oshawa Stroke Support Group has made her stronger and has given her direction” she would also say that “if you think you can or can’t, you are right”.

In addition to being the Chairperson for the Oshawa Stroke Support group she is an active Peers Fostering Hope Volunteer, spending her free time giving hope to people who have newly experienced a stroke. Lastly, she also volunteers with the Living with Stroke program running it twice a year. She is truly remarkable and unstoppable! We want to thank Joan Winter for her time and positive energy towards helping other stroke survivors and caregivers realize that there is life after stroke.


If you’d like to learn more about March of Dimes Canada’s volunteering opportunities, please visit this landing page from their site: http://bit.ly/MODCVol

“Why I Canvass” – Wayne Eastabrook

Door-To-Door-Wayne-EastabrookPeterborough resident Wayne Eastabrook has been canvassing his neighbourhood in support of March of Dimes Canada’s Door-to-Door Campaign for over a decade. He was first driven to support the Campaign after the organization provided financial assistance to his daughter Kate that allowed her to move into her own apartment.

“I don’t believe that Kate would be able to be as independent and live on her own without the support of March of Dimes Canada,” says Wayne. “It made the transition from our home into a supported apartment so much easier, and our whole family is very grateful for this.”

He started canvassing his neighbours and is able to raise $300 -$400 each year. His community members know he’s coming, and are prepared with a small donation when Wayne comes to their door.

“I like to canvass in January, because how can anybody turn away a man in the cold,” jokes Wayne. “But really, I like to remind my neighbours that this a good cause, helping people in their community, and that every bit counts” he says.

Wayne believes in paying it forward, in addition to supporting March of Dimes Canada, he is also the Board President of Community Living Peterborough.

“I know that there are needs in the community, and somehow, we have to help,” says Wayne.

Want to be part of our Door-to-door campaign but are unable to physically go door-to-door? This is an easy fix! You can now sign up as an online canvasser – here’s the link: http://bit.ly/D2DOnline Help us support Canadians living with disabilities!

Volunteer Profiles: Bill Blodgett

Written By:  Brendan Hair

Despite suffering a stroke in 2003 Bill Blodgett is peddling a path he hopes stroke survivors will follow.

While the road to recovery seems daunting Bill feels there is no reason to give up based on his experience.  From his progression the Peterborough resident advises survivors to remain positive. He believes there’s always ways to persevere if you want something bad enough.

“There is always hope – Don’t give up. There is always a way to do something. It takes me a little bit longer but there is nothing that stops me from doing what I want to do,” said Bill.

One example of Bill’s perseverance comes from his source of transportation. While Bill’s comfortable with the bus he would not be satisfied without a chance to use his bicycle. With the support of adult stabilizer wheels he’s continued riding his bike for leisure and to attend the two March of Dimes of Canada programs that he volunteers with: the Aphasia and Communication Disabilities Program, and Life After Stroke, a Stroke Recovery Canada chapter in Peterborough.

Bill Blodgett and Bicycle
Bill Blodgett and his love of cycling

Along with his cycling passion Bill began setting his sights on regaining his driver’s license. He’s optimistic after seeing a fellow Life After Stroke volunteer driving a modified car.

For Bill, being a part of his local stroke support chapter has also had a positive impact in his recreational time.  Another member of Life After Stroke introduced him to a swimming program at the YMCA. Bill now attends the YMCA three times a week.  

Despite always being on a tight schedule Bill recalls never missing the weekly Aphasia program, which he started volunteering for in 2011.   He was also named a guest speaker at the York-Durham’s Aphasia’s Centre’s 25th anniversary in 2014.

As a volunteer Bill compliments March of Dimes Canada as an organization full of great ideas and inspirations.

“I would never have dreamt that they would be so innovative.”

To learn more about the March of Dimes Canada programs that Bill participates in, visit:  Aphasia and Communication Disabilities Program and Stroke Recovery Canada.

Volunteer Profiles: John Hurst

If it wasn’t for curiosity created by his neurologist John Hurst may not be a volunteer with March of Dimes of Canada (MODC) today.

After suffering a stroke in 1999, John’s neurologist said his speech could improve, but John was eager to find out more on how. He continued his journey on the internet, which led him to a speech-language pathologist. He learned from the pathologist about York-Durham Aphasia Centre (YDAC), and began volunteering there in 2002.  While most of the volunteers at YDAC are not stroke survivors, John’s stroke experience certainly adds to what he brings to the program.  He has also been serving on the Board of Stroke Recovery Canada’s Toronto Central Chapter since 2008.

John considers his aphasia diagnosis less severe than many. He overcame many weaknesses quickly and never required a wheelchair.  While feeling fortunate about his recovery, John takes more appreciation seeing his children and supporting fellow stroke survivors.

John Hurst

“Just giving back a little bit is something I can do and help people,” said John.

While John knows from experience it’s impossible to make a complete stroke recovery he is optimistic about the progress that survivors can make.

“It’s not the end of the world (and) there is life after a stroke for sure.”

He believes people need to be more educated about stroke survivors because some assume they can no longer speak.   “(Stroke survivors are) never going to be 100 per cent but (they) will improve (their speech) and the improvement is what I like to see in people.”

To learn more about the March of Dimes Canada programs visit:  York-Durham Aphasia Centre  and Stroke Recovery Canada

By:  Brendan Hair


When You Hear Someone Knocking At Your Door It Might Be A Volunteer From March of Dimes Canada

By: Mary Lynne Stewart, Director of Fund Development and Communications, March of Dimes Canada.

This winter has been a long one. We have all been affected by the ice and the temperature and it has made me admire the brave spirit of our Door-to-Door volunteers as they have gone out despite this cold weather and knocked on the neighbors’ doors. It has been my privilege to meet some of the folks that do this for March of Dimes, and again I am always reminded of why we work for March of Dimes. We have dozens of volunteers who have been doing this for over 20 years. We always try and say thank you but somehow it does not seem enough. Stories of what I call heroes are what we remember at the end of the day. People ask why do we do this in January?  The reason is that it goes back to our roots when the organization started, and the bigger story is of what the ‘Marching Mothers’ of the 1950’s did for their children to stop the epidemic of polio. They went door-to-door to collect dimes to stop this horrible disease and I think they were heroes, just as I think our door-to-door volunteers are heroes. It takes courage to knock on your neighbour’s door. I know how I feel when I am sitting down with my family at dinner and someone knocks at the door. You think “Who is at my door and bothering me?” but I always go to the door and give because I think of our volunteers going door to door. My thought is that if I am nice to whoever is at the door, people will be nice to our volunteers.

Joan Hobbs

This is March of Dimes month and we want to celebrate our volunteers by letting them know how much we appreciate what they do.  One volunteer who truly embodies the spirit of our Door-to-Door campaign is Joan Hobbs, who has been involved with the Door-to-Door Campaign in Aylmer for an astonishing 57 years! Joan started her volunteer campaign with a group of women in her community. At one point about 20-25 years ago, as each of the ladies passed on, the job of knocking on doors became too much for Joan to handle.  Many people would have simply stopped volunteering at that point – but not Joan!  Instead, she converted her door-to-door campaign to a mail campaign – and continues to do so. Each year, she personally stuffs and labels more than 3,000 appeal letters!  As donations come in, Joan personally hand-delivers receipts to donors. She has raised more than $3,000 every year for the last three years. It’s a fair guess to say that over the last 55 years, Joan has helped to rise over $150,000 for March of Dimes!  Joan proves unequivocally that one person can truly make a difference.

So my closing thought is: remember when you look out at the snow and you hear someone knocking at your door, it might be a volunteer from March of Dimes that is there on behalf of Canadians with disabilities. So please open the door and thank them for doing what they do.

If you would like to become a March of Dimes Door-to-Door canvasser or online canvasser and would like more information please click here.