Volunteer Impact Stories
2022 Halton Volunteer Impact Awards
Community Development Halton, through Volunteer Halton, offers the Halton Volunteer Impact Award to active CDH members. The award is presented to selected volunteers during National Volunteer Week celebrations.
The Halton Volunteer Impact Award is representative of the importance and impact of the role of volunteers across Halton Region on an annual basis. This award provides organizations with an opportunity to honour an individual volunteer and it allows Community Development Halton to celebrate the accomplishments of outstanding volunteers in Halton Region as nominated by their organizations.
This year, a total of 30 nominations were received from 18 member organizations across Halton Region. A total of eight recipients were selected by the Impact Award Selection Committee, two from each of Halton’s municipalities: City of Burlington, Town of Halton Hills, Town of Milton, and the Town of Oakville.
In celebration of National Volunteer Week, the Halton Volunteer Impact Award is representative of the importance and impact of the roles of volunteers across Halton during 2020. Eight recipients has been selected, two from each Halton municipalities: City of Burlington, Town of Halton Hills, Town of Milton, and Town of Oakville.
These are their amazing, selfless, and inspiring volunteer stories.
Catharine Collinson, Halton Baby-Friendly Initiative
Co-Chair and Education Coordinator
Catherine has been nominated by Vicky Greer for her contributions to the life and work of the Halton Baby-Friendly Initiative or HBFI. Starting her volunteer journey as the Event Coordinator in 2017, Catherine continued in this role until 2020 when she stepped into the role of Education Course Manager on the Executive Team and then in 2021, moved into the role of Co-Chair to help support HBFI mission.
As stated by nominator Vicky Greer, “To say that she is exceptional in her commitment to HBFI would be an understatement”. During the pandemic, the Halton Public Health staff and community partners who normally help with education and outreach were focused on key pandemic activities, Catherine stepped in and stepped up to ensure that the vital work of HBFI, providing breastfeeding education courses and support to new parents would continue and adapt to meet the challenges COVID 19 put in the way.
With the assistance of members of the Executive, Catherine and HBFI amazing educator, led the work to design, recruit for and trial an online version of courses, allowing HBFI to continue to provide breastfeeding education to health care providers during this challenging time. As noted by Vicky in her nomination, “the time and effort that went into the project was immense, and there have been ongoing challenges and complications to success”. There are new parents who have Catherine to thank for their ability to meet their personal infant feeding goals through this project.
Catherine, Community Development Halton and Volunteer Halton wish to thank YOU for everything you have contributed to HBFI since 2017. Your impact on the organization, our health care providers, and new parents is evident through your dedication to the mission of HBFI. Your compassion is demonstrated not only through your outreach work but also through your check-ins with fellow HBFI volunteers and asking the question “How can we help”? On behalf of everyone at HBFI and Community Development Halton we are delighted to present you with our 2022 Halton Volunteer Impact Award.
Halton Baby Friendly Initiative: Home | Halton Baby Friendly Initiative (babyfriendlyhalton.ca)
Lauren Desmarias, SAVIS of Halton
Crisis Line Volunteer
Lauren has been an active volunteer member of the SAVIS Crisis Line team for over 2 years. Responding to calls from people/survivors, offering emotional support and resources. Lauren provides non-judgmental emotional support through active listening, collaborative problem solving, and safety planning.
In addition to providing support on the telephone, Lauren also accompanies survivors to Nina’s Place and Police reporting, walking alongside them so they know they are not alone. An active member at volunteer meetings, Lauren willingly shares her experiences and knowledge to help all volunteers at SAVIS learn and grow. As noted by nominator Shelagh, “Lauren is open to new possibilities with prejudging them and she is developing fantastic leadership skills through her continued learning and sharing”.
Lauren is passionate and involved with SAVIS because she knows that every one of her responses has made a difference in the lives of those she has helped.
Community Development Halton and Volunteer Halton want to thank YOU for everything you do with SAVIS. Being on a crisis-line is difficult work, you never know what the person calling is going through, has been through, and what they need in that moment. Your calm approach, active listening, and compassion has provided hope to many people who you have helped. On behalf of everyone at HBFI and Community Development Halton we are delighted to present you with our 2022 Halton Volunteer Impact Award.
Joanne Dhingra, Kerr Street Mission
Soup Kitchen Team Lead
Joanne has been volunteering at Kerr Street Mission since 2010 as a member of the Soup Kitchen Team. This started as a small group of volunteers preparing meals for clients. Soon it became clear that a Lead Volunteer was needed, and Joanne approached the staff and offered to lead the brigade. And she continues to do so until this day! Joanne comes into twice a week to prepare and serve meals, she organizes the volunteers to support her, managing vacations and absences and always makes sure there are enough people available to get the job done. As stated by nominator Doris, “Joanne works her magic in the kitchen, using the ingredients we have on hand to create flavourful, healthy, and nutritious meals for our clients”. All this work equates to about 800 meals per month.
COVID forced the program to move to a take home model and Joanne led her team to make this happen as well. In 2021, the team prepared 10,000 meals, ensuring that people had a healthy meal during these tough times. In addition to meal prep, Joanne also creates simple recipes which are shared with clients and for those who need assistance in becoming comfortable in the kitchen, she offers cooking classes as well. She passes along her knowledge and love of cooking to any client interested in learning. Clients have come to count on the delicious meals Joanne and her team prepares every Tuesday and Friday and that help alleviate some of the stress and pressures in their lives.
Joanne, Community Development Halton and Volunteer Halton want to thank YOU for everything you have given and continue to give to Kerr Street Mission. Your dedication to providing a dignified experience to clients coming in for a meal and your devotion to supporting volunteers in creating health meals is noted and much appreciated. On behalf of everyone at HBFI and Community Development Halton we are delighted to present you with our 2022 Halton Volunteer Impact Award.
Kerr Street Mission: Home – Kerr Street Mission
Margie Dittmar, HMC Connections
English Conversation Program Lead
Margie facilitates the English Conversation program here at HMC Connections and manages two group session every week, providing classes for both the intermediate and advanced language levels. Nominated by Regina for her dedication to the participants, Margie is also a language mentor to several newcomers who arrived in Canada with very limited English language skill.
Margie is patient, has excellent active listening skills, and creates a fun, interactive, and interesting conversation environment in both group settings and in one-on-one sessions with mentees. She creates a harmonious space where participants feel at ease, sharing their life story and experiences as an immigrant to Canada. Margie brings together newcomers to actively participate in a safe and caring environment, encouraging them to share their culture with the group.
Her contributions to HMC enable us to support our language program students outside of the classroom setting and helps newcomers whose first language is not English overcome language barriers. Margie provides not only learning but also a good space to help with participants’ mental health through the social interactions in the group. She is an excellent reflection of HMC’s mission to help newcomers settle and integrate into a welcoming and inclusive community.
Margie, Community Development Halton and Volunteer Halton want to thank YOU for everything you have given and continue to give to HMC Connections. Your dedication to providing a dignified experience to clients coming in to learn and your devotion to supporting them to become more comfortable in their new country is admirable. On behalf of everyone at HMC Connections and Community Development Halton we are delighted to present you with our 2022 Halton Volunteer Impact Award.
HMC Connections: Home – Halton Multicultural Council (hmcconnections.com)
Roberta Duncan, Centre for Skills Development
ELT Program Volunteer
Roberta has been nominated by Joanne Graham for her work as a volunteer with the ELT Program. Roberta began volunteering with this program in 2014 and she helps internationally trained newcomers improve their language skills and acquire the necessary knowledge and resources to gain employment. She has helped with at least 24 classes over the past eight years, making a lasting impact on the lives of many newcomers as they settle into the Halton community and work towards employment.
As said by nominator Joanne, “Roberta helps students build confidence as they work through their job search journey”. Roberta goes above and beyond with the people she supports tailoring her coaching sessions to the specific needs of each student, meeting with students for coffee after the session ends so they can continue to practice their speaking and listening skills. She is dedicated to helping create connections for the students in the community, connecting them with networks and resources; in one case, she arranged a meeting for a student with one of Canada’s finest entrepreneurs!
Roberta, Community Development Halton and Volunteer Halton wish to thank YOU for everything you have contributed to the Centre for Skills Development since 2014. Your dedication to helping newcomers be successful and your perseverance in ensuring they are successful is duly noted and admired. On behalf of everyone at Centre for Skills Development and Community Development Halton we are delighted to present you with our 2022 Halton Volunteer Impact Award.
Centre for Skills Development: Centre for Skills – Home
David McLean, Hillsview Active Living Centre, Acton
President, Board of Directors
David has been nominated by Rosanne Natale for his service as a dedicated and inspiring leader in 2021. Throughout the pandemic, he has maintained his commitment to the Centre and the vulnerable individuals it serves. David is an enthusiastic and diligent Board President, providing oversight into all aspects of the operations of the Centre.
As said by nominator, Rosanne, “David is a hands-on member of the team, someone who takes an active role in the life and work of the Hillsview Active Living Centre in Acton”. In 2021, David implemented the Drive-Through-Dinner program in recognition of the growing isolation many in the community were feeling during the pandemic. This program engaged volunteers to deliver meals prepared by local restaurants to those at home and he was right there, delivering meals personally in various locations across Acton.
In addition to maintaining connections with fellow community members, this program also helped local restaurants. David also gives his time on the fundraising and PR committees and organizes the very popular Bingo program. His connections in the community have meant that the Centre has been able to fill key roles on the Board and in programs.
David’s work has kept Seniors connected to the community, eased loneliness, and helped to increase coal interactions so critically needed over the past year. He exemplifies the characteristics of an exceptional volunteer, and the Hillsview Active Living Centre is better for his involvement.
David Community Development Halton and Volunteer Halton wants to thank YOU for everything you have contributed to the Hillsview Active Living Centre and all of Acton. On behalf of everyone at HBFI and Community Development Halton we are delighted to present you with our 2022 Halton Volunteer Impact Award.
Hillsview Active Living Centre, Acton: Hillsview Active Living Centre – Acton (haltonhills.ca)
Janna Ormond, The Darling Home for Kids
Companionship Volunteer and Volunteer Engagement Advisory Committee member
Janna has been volunteering with The Darling Home for Kids for 4 years and according to nominator Erin, “The organization would not be same without Janna on our team”. Janna provides friendship, engagement and support to our residential and respite clients.
In her role as a volunteer, Janna brings smiles, laughter and fun to clients who are medically-fragile – she goes above and beyond to ensure they are included and engaged and this, in turn, makes a difference to our families and staff team. Weekly, Jana meets with 2 clients virtually and, when in-person, 3 – 4 on a weekly basis and overall has impacted over 40 clients and 40 staff members during her time with the Home. She has also taken on a mentor role, training and leading new volunteers coming into the organization, as well as providing feedback and training to staff on the volunteer program and companionship program.
Janna is very comfortable talking with others about the work she does at The Darling Home for Kids and eagerly signs up and brings family and friends to share in the life of the Home. She is an ambassador, a mentor, and a friend. Janna always steps up and steps in again and again to give time, heart, and leadership to this organization.
Janna, Community Development Halton and Volunteer Halton want to thank YOU for everything you do with The Darling Home for Kids. Your calm approach, active listening, and compassion has provided hope to many young people and their families. On behalf of everyone at the Darling Home for Kids and Community Development Halton we are delighted to present you with our 2022 Halton Volunteer Impact Award.
Darling Home for Kids: WELCOME – Darling Home for Kids
Sheila Parker, Halton Children’s Aid Society
Financial Literacy Program Lead – Youth and Young Adults
Sheila has been nominated by Clara Costa for her contributions to the life and work of the Halton Children’s Aid Society. Sheila is very well informed on the organization, its goals, and its mission in the community. She first came to HCAS to help youth learn the basics of budgeting and financial literacy.
As stated by nominator Clara Costa, “Sheila is an amazing volunteer! Her commitment and loyalty to both the agency staff and the children and youth we serve is unmatched. She is kind, accommodating, compassionate, caring, and incredibly sensitive to the needs of others”. Sheila quickly moved from sharing the basics of budgeting to developing a Financial Literacy online course for youth; she also worked with youth one-on-one as well.
From there she inquired about the HCAS mentoring program and was quickly matched with a transgender youth who was interested in starting their own business. Sheila offered her valuable time and guided the youth, providing business instruction but more importantly, creating a connection that developed into a friendship, a confident, and huge support for this youth.
In addition, Sheila is assisting with fundraising activities for HCAS currently procuring auction items for an upcoming online auction. HCAS is incredibly lucky to have Sheila as part of the volunteer team. As stated by Clara, “Sheila’s heart is made of pure gold!”
Sheila, Community Development Halton and Volunteer Halton wish to thank YOU for everything you have contributed to the Halton Children Aid’s Society. Your dedication to ensuring that youth have basic budgeting and financial tools is key to helping them along the road to success. On behalf of everyone at HCAS and Community Development Halton we are delighted to present you with our 2022 Halton Volunteer Impact Award.
Halton Children’s Aid Society: Halton Children’s Aid Society (haltoncas.ca)