I was quite young when I started to volunteer.
My first memory is being around 10 years old and calling constituents on behalf of our local municipal candidate in a Toronto election. All I remember is saying to people, "I hope we can count on your support for Yuri Shymko."
As I got older, I continued to volunteer by writing for my high school newsletter, running publicity for a university club and, once I started working, I joined the Progressive Conservative Party's Blue Club which was a great way to meet people my age with politics being the catalyst.
My efforts are now targeted to causes where I have a personal connection like the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, my childrens' schools, and The Ukrainian Canadian Care Centre where I am one of many volunteers running the gift shop.
The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada was a no-brainer for me. When my husband was diagnosed with glioblastoma, we were given the Foundation's handbook in the hospital and I read it cover to cover. The information and support that it offered me was invaluable and as soon as I was ready I wanted to start volunteering for them.
The nursing home and schools are a part of our community and knowing that they are always in need of help, I am willing to give them my time and expertise.
What do I get out of it? There are a variety of things that volunteering does for me.
First, it brings me together with a community where we all have the same passion.
Second, being a volunteer gives me access to information. By joining the Brain Tumour Foundation I was able to meet medical experts at strategy meetings and hear the latest research while getting to know them on a more personal level.
Third, volunteering has broadened my circle of friends. I have gotten to know so many people from my volunteering commitments and I have no doubt that we will continue to be friends for years to come.
Finally, its given me the opportunity to show my own children the value in giving their time to something they care about and reaping the rewards. Its a pleasure to watch them choose their passion projects.
Wherever you choose to volunteer, I hope it gives you the same satisfaction as mine have given me.
Left to right: Sharon and Marie are two women who I met through the Brain Tumour conference