Volunteer Spotlight: Alex Evans

Volunteer Spotlight: July 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Alex EvansWe’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again, Volunteers are important to the success of the service we give here at March of Dimes Canada. We appreciate and acknowledge volunteers for all the amazing, incredible and hard work they do. Each month this year, we’ve been getting to know some of the things our volunteers like outside of volunteering.

Meet Alex! She’s our spotlight for July.

July Volunteer Spotlight

Name: Alex Evans

Nominated By: Maryam Iqbal

Position Description: Supportive Communication Facilitator

Age: 24 years old

How long have you been an MODC Volunteer? Almost 3 years

What is your favourite part about volunteering with MODC? 

It is so fulfilling to be able to see the difference you can make in someone’s life just by being present. My favourite part is watching individuals grow more confident in themselves. I love helping out with the Aphasia and Communication Peer Support Group because it brightens any bad day, and I know it’s the highlight for their day as well.

A book you would recommend?

I am currently reading the Alice Network and I would recommend it to anyone who likes strong female characters, mystery, and historical fiction.

What is your go-to dessert? Dark chocolate!

If you had a superpower, what would it be? I would like to be able to bend time – there are not enough hours in the day.

What is your favourite movie?  If I had to pick one of my all-time favourites, Clue (1985).

Maryam Iqbal nominated Alex. Erica has added why they chose to nominate this volunteer.

Alex, is truly committed to everything that she does. She really flourished and gained confidence throughout the time that she spent volunteering for the Aphasia Friendly Peer Support Group.”

She is very open to learning news things and is eager to take on new challenges.

Alex, is truly committed to everything that she does. She really flourished and gained confidence throughout the time that she spent volunteering for the Aphasia Friendly Peer Support Group.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Alex Evans. Go-to Dessert: Dark Chocolate!

"Adele has become very social and enjoys making friends."

Adele’s “Yes, I can do it!” attitude!

"Adele has become very social and enjoys making friends."

Words by Adele’s mother, Minna

My heart was filled with love—and worries! Realizing that my three-month-old daughter Adele was having difficulty holding her head up and barely making use of her right hand was truly frightening.

Today, thanks to March of Dimes Canada’s Conductive Education® Program, at age five, Adele is enjoying her first year in a regular Junior Kindergarten class in a public school. Working hard in this program has allowed Adele to develop the ability to navigate the playground safely, master uneven surfaces, run and jump. She has become strong and has even conquered going up and down the stairs. This is a tremendous milestone for a child with challenges like Adele’s.

My daughter was born and diagnosed in London, UK. The medical findings were complex, but the primary challenge Adele faces is called hemiparesis syndrome. As a baby she needed lots of support to learn to use her right hand and how to crawl. From her first step to walking independently, it took a full year. She works on balance issues to this day. What comes easily for most children takes a great deal of time and concentrated effort for Adele.

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Adele and mother, Minna

When our family was preparing to move to Canada I was concerned about finding proper resources for Adele. We asked the organization we were working with in the UK for guidance and were overjoyed to find out that March of Dimes Canada was there for us!

Adele has been thriving in the Conductive Education® Program. The comprehensive curriculum seems almost tailor made for each participant. My heart explodes with joy as Adele gains more and more independence through her lessons including self-care skills like taking off and putting on her own clothes.  Her academic achievements now include learning the alphabet, recognizing short syllables and words and even spelling her own name.

March of Dimes Canada is helping her gain confidence and bloom in so many ways.  Adele has become very social and enjoys making friends because learning is done in a safe and nurturing environment among her peers and friends. For Adele, the program does not feel like therapy or arduous work because the wonderful teachers make it so enjoyable for her. The conductors do such a wonderful job of working with all the children to ensure they reach their full potential.

Adele has become fearless in her “Yes, I can do it!” attitude.

Thank you for letting me share my story with you about Adele and if you have the opportunity, please support March of Dimes Canada.

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If you’d like to help other children like Adele receive the support and resources they need to reach their full potential, please visit: www.marchofdimes.ca/DoubleMyGift

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

Ralph’s Journey

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Words by Ralph.

There are many things I am proud to have accomplished in my life.  Today, I am proud to add stroke survivor to that list.  March of Dimes Canada helped me get my life back.

My stroke left me feeling like I lost everything in an instant.  I became a guy who could not dress himself. I needed assistance with pretty much everything. I felt helpless, but most of all scared.

Thankfully, I learned about March of Dimes Canada Conductive Education® (CE) Program and all the ways in which they help stroke survivors return to independent life. Having already been in physical therapy for almost two years, I was skeptical as to how much more they could do for me. But participating in their Stroke and Fitness Program, I soon learned that I needed to stop focusing on what I couldn’t do and instead channel my energy into finding solutions to reach my milestones.

It’s been a long journey but one I am proud to have made.  Through MODC I have been clawing back to the point where I now live alone and I can do most of my daily chores independently. With each passing day, I regain more and more of my self-worth and dignity; I am no longer the guy who needs help with everything.

When you suffer a stroke, you lose everything in a matter of seconds, and it takes the rest of your life to gain it back.  March of Dimes Canada taught me if I want it back, I have to work for it.  It’s been three years since my stroke and I plan on working hard every day to get better and live as normal a life as I can.  The only thing that can stop a stroke survivor from getting better is giving up.  I’m not giving up.

I wouldn’t be where I am now without you.  Thank you.

 

If you’d like to help other stroke survivors like Ralph, please visit: https://marchofdimes.akaraisin.com/SpringGivingMay2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Jane Parsons

Volunteer Spotlight: May 2018

Volunteer Spotlight: Jane Parsons

Our volunteers are the best and we appreciate them for all the work they do.  This year we’re spotlighting them so we can get to know a little more of their interests! May’s spotlight is Jane Parsons. See her profile below!

Name: Jane Parsons

Nominated by: Devon Evershed

Volunteer Position: Peers Fostering Hope – Peer Visitor

What is your favorite part about volunteering with MODC?

I love to help others in their recovery.

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

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden, and The Marriage of Opposites – Alice Hoffman.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

This I struggled with as no one power would help everyone! But if I had to have one, it would be to cure any child illness.

What is your go-to dessert?

Cheesecake and Rhubarb Pie

What is your favourite movie?

Sound of Music.

We asked Devon why she nominated this volunteer?

Jane is in her fourth year of volunteering with the Peers Fostering Hope (PFH) program. As a hospital volunteer she visits new stroke survivors and provides much needed inspiration and hope. She is a reliable and dedicated volunteer, who speaks positively about the PFH program to potential new volunteers by explaining the impact the program has made on her life and the difference that she feels she is making with others. Her honest and open communication is helpful to the patients she visits and other volunteers, who benefit from her wisdom.

In 2017, she joined a pilot project for community visiting as part of the PFH program. In this pilot she was matched with two individuals. She provided emotional support, helped with goal setting, and helped with accessing programs, to support reintegration into the community after stroke. According to one individual she supported: “She talks about what she’s gone through and what’s worked for her—it helps me know what’s coming. It prepares me as I go through the process and makes me feel like I’m not the only one who’s been through this.” She has been very proactive not only in her efforts to support these individuals but also in providing updates on her matches and suggestions to those who were administering the program. Jane, along with other volunteers from the program, have addressed a gap in care for stroke survivors and provided support during a crucial time of transition from hospital to home. It has been wonderful having Jane give back as part of the Peers Fostering Hope program.

How long have you been an MODC volunteer?

4 Years.

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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?

Quilting

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?

Outlander.

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.

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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

Branden - The Impact of L.I.F.E. for young adults with disabilities

The Impact of L.I.F.E. – Branden

Branden - The Impact of L.I.F.E. for young adults with disabilities

When Branden joined the Learning Independence for Future Empowerment (L.I.F.E.) Mississauga Program, he wanted to learn how to take the MiWay Transit buses independently. Although he was comfortable using TransHelp buses and booking his rides by himself, he desired a method of transportation that did not require a booking process so that he can be more spontaneous and flexible in his outings. His goal was to take the MiWay Transit buses to get to the program instead of using TransHelp. He also wanted to expand his social circle and be more familiar with various places in the community.

L.I.F.E. Program Instructors determined that Branden could work on this goal by participating in the Transit Training component of the L.I.F.E. Program since he wanted to familiarize himself with the public transit system and learn how to plan trips using Google Maps. It was also determined that he would be a good candidate for social outings days as it would give him an opportunity to explore the community by attending various events with the program and spending time with other participants in social settings.

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Branden taking a MiWay Transit bus

During Transit Training, Branden was the first to search directions to the destinations. His attendance was excellent as well. He attended Transit Training for one session and is now comfortable taking MiWay Transit buses independently. He also learned many new routes to his house from the program, as well as directions to various recreational sites in his community. Additionally, he reported having an easier time running errands and going out with friends ever since using the MiWay buses. Branden has been very comfortable using conventional transit to the point that he was able to use the Brampton Züm buses to attend an event on his own!

I learned how to take the bus by myself. I met a new friend Siu Fan…He is my new bestie. I am excited to look for and get a job.

– Branden

Branden reported he has expanded his social circle as he met new friends at the program. He shared that he goes out with those friends outside of program hours especially on the weekends, visiting shopping malls like Square One and watching movies together at the theatre or at one of their houses.

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Branden at Square One shopping mall in Mississauga

Overall, Branden has increased his community engagement by learning to navigate the public transit system, which allows him to explore his community, and he has met new friends at the program. Branden has also been selected as a candidate for the March of Dimes pre-employment program (PEP), and he will begin attending it in November. There he will begin to work on another area of independence.

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Our goal for Giving Tuesday this year is to raise funds to expand our L.I.F.E. Pilot Program in Calgary so that it runs longer than 2 weeks. It’s the first step towards our overarching goal of bringing the L.I.F.E. Program to empower other young adults with disabilities in other communities across the country! We’ve teamed up with Eric Howk from the band, Portugal. The Man, and Savaria to spread the word. Savaria will also be matching every donation dollar for dollar until Giving Tuesday on November 28. This means your donation will be worth twice as much! Please see our crowdfunding pages below:

If you’d like to donate in CAD ($), please visit: http://bit.ly/IGGLIFE

For our international donors, please visit: http://bit.ly/MODCLIFE17