Volunteer of the Year Award 2014

by Richard Haskell

April 6-12 2014 was National Volunteer Week in Canada, and in searching online for a few quotations regarding volunteers and volunteering, I quickly discovered there are more than I ever thought possible, all of them written over a long period of time, and by people from all walks of life.  I found it difficult to choose one that I felt summed up the whole essence of volunteer work, but one I particularly like was penned by the American physician and writer Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew.  It states:

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”

Another one, perhaps more thought provoking, but bearing no accreditation goes:

“Don’t ever question the value of volunteers. Noah’s Ark was built by volunteers; the Titanic was built by professionals.”

However we choose to describe those who willingly give both their time and energy for a cause, volunteers are the backbone of any non-profit organization.  And like other non-profits, BIST has been fortunate over the years to have a large number of individuals who consistently go “above and beyond” furthering the cause of brain injury awareness and support in many different ways.

In recognition of these individuals, BIST introduced the Vetter Volunteer of the Year Award in 2012, named in honour of Esther and Alfred Vetter whose son suffered a brain injury many years ago. Together the Vetter’s have been a dominant force in brain injury awareness- Esther is the founding Executive Director of the former Head Injury Association of Toronto.

The first two recipients of the award were Ian Bowles in 2012 and Colleen Boyce in 2013, chosen for their hard work, dedication and commitment to BIST. More information about Ian and Colleen can be found at www.bist.ca/volunteer-year-award.

This year, four people have been nominated: Ruth Fernandez, Beverlee Melamed, Celia Missios, and Cora Moncada.

Ruth has been singled out as one of the key volunteers on the Mix & Mingle Committee, and during the last four years, has helped both BIST and OBIA raise close to $400K. Beverlee has been a Co-Chair of the Volunteer Committee, and has always maintained a perfect attendance record. When a former ABI survivor and committee member became ill, Beverlee made a point of checking in on her and reported back to the committee.  A newer member of BIST, Celia is currently a Mentor in the Peer Support Mentor Program and has represented the organization as a survivor member on the panel of the Brain Basics Trainings programs. She also took part in the annual run last fall, raising the most money individually.  Cora was one of the founding members of the BIST board and was a key player in developing much of the current infrastructure. She was one of the three people who initiated the annual run and continues to put a great deal of work into the event to make it such a great success.

Personally, I’m glad it’s not up to me to decide a winner among these four women; I’d be hard-pressed to choose. Quite clearly, ALL of them are winners and all deserve our thanks and our heartfelt congratulations though their generosity of time, their dedication and their continued involvement with BIST.

BIST Volunteer Appreciation night is on Monday April 28th at 6:00 pm at 40 Orchard View Blvd in Room 200.

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