Volunteers - the people who are there when you need them and ask for nothing in return are recognized.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

April 16, 2015


Would the world continue to turn without volunteers? There are a lot of people in the Burlington whose lives are better because of the many volunteers – and the lives of those volunteers are richer because of the work they do.

At about this time last year Community Development Halton created an award in the name of former Burlington Mayor Walter Mulkewich to recognize the work volunteers do.

Ann Coburn’s Director of Volunteer Halton, in handing out the awards made these comments:
We are witness this morning to the recognition of the work, generosity and impact of individual volunteers across Halton’s four communities. You and other extraordinary volunteers have said to us repeatedly, “it isn’t really me, it is about the group, it’s about the energy and commitment of my neighbours”.

This rippled through us at Community Development Halton that we created an award to celebrate those amazing and dedicated people who come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems in their community.

Mulkewich llistening

Walter Mulkewich, taking in a political speech on a sunny summer afternoon.

This award honours a citizen of Burlington, a citizen of Halton, Walter Mulkewich, who has worked and is working tirelessly to influence evolution and advancement in sectors such as the environment, economic development, social development, mental health, and the arts and culture. Walter epitomizes the characteristics of leadership: honesty, integrity, courage, and inclusion. He is a man graced by the passion for fairness, for social justice, and for human well-being.

In 2015, the committee is honouring, T.E.A.C.H., with the Mulkewich award.
T.E.A.C.H. is an acronym meaning Teach, Empower, Advocate for Community Health. T.E.A.C.H. is a Consumer Survivor initiative operating across Halton that provides peer support and advocacy to individuals experiencing mental health and substance use. All thirty+ volunteers have lived experience with the mental health and addictions system. Volunteers have been actively involved in numerous facets of education, support, training, counselling, outreach and promotion, even back office and administrative duties, marketing and event planning.

T.E.A.C.H. is an organization whose foundation has been built on the effort and inspiration of community volunteers. T.E.A.C.H. is guided by the “Recovery Philosophy”, which affirms that all people experiencing challenges have inherent strengths, and that they can – and will – get better.

Joseph Kiss - volunteer

Joseph Kiss, Rolling Horse Community Cycle. Joseph provides free bicycle repair and basic bike mechanics for children and adults in neighbourhoods across Burlington.

Having an organization such as T.E.A.C.H. has allowed individuals and their families to start a dialogue in the community surrounding mental health and addictions. T.E.A.C.H. assists us to better understand mental health and additions so that we can be supportive and inclusive. T.E.A.C.H. partners and collaborates with numerous social and health agencies building their collective capacity to support the growing needs of our citizens suffering from mental health and addictions.

For example, T.E.A.C.H. works with our local hospitals, P.O.S.S.E. (Peer Outreach Support Services & Education) , Halton A.D.A.P.T. (Alcohol Drug and Gambling Assessment Prevention and Treatment), Summit Housing, S.T.R.I.D.E. (Supported Training & Rehabilitation in Diverse Environments) and the Region of Halton, to name a few.

Yvonne Kato volunteer

Yvonne Kato is a holistic therapy volunteer at Breast Cancer Support Services, offering Reiki to members. Breast Cancer Support Services provides a variety of healing modalities to women living cancer, to help them ease the stress and side effects of treatment.

While much of the audience was made up of Volunteers taking part in the Breakfast event, Joey Edwardh, was not just speaking to the converted when she said: “The theme this year for National Volunteer Week is the ripple effect of volunteerism. A volunteer action is like a stone thrown in a lake: its effect has a direct impact. At the same time, like ripples, volunteer efforts reach out far and wide to improve communities..

Quoting Christine Mason Miller, Edwardh said: “When we focus our energy towards constructing a passionate meaningful life, we are tossing a pebble into the world creating a beautiful ripple of inspiration. When one person follows a dream , tries something new, or takes a daring leap, everyone feels that energy and before too long they are making their own daring leaps and inspiring yet another circle. “

Cavan Cook volunteer John Howard

Cavan Cook, John Howard Society, Burlington & Area. Cavan is a Mentor for Youth At Risk Development (YARD) program. He provides individual support to a young person focused on setting up and achieving positive goals.

She added: Like a pebble thrown into the water, volunteer action creates many ripples of inspiration and encouragement . Volunteers reach out beyond themselves to engage in kindness and caring for others. They are special people, with busy lives, who make time for others. They see and respect the dignity of their fellow men and women. In a thousand different ways they lighten the load for those who are burdened by illness, troubles or disadvantage.

Volunteerism has always been with us, we call it neighbours helping neighbours, supporting one another when affected by disaster, concerned citizens see a need in their community, form groups of like-minded individuals to address the need and create change.

Our Governor General, his Excellency The Right Honourable David Johnston, said the third pillar of Canada will be encouraging philanthropy and volunteerism. He went on to say that “Canadians have a long history of coming together and helping one another. Service to country shaped us, service to family and community sustains us, and this tradition of service will carry us forward into the future”

The Ripple Effect! Throughout history we can trace back to organizations that were formed to address areas of injustice and the social needs of society. In Canada, organizations emerged in direct response to a need in community all of which involved Volunteers as founders, supporters and front line workers.

Linda McKay with Mayor and Searles

Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring on the left with John Searles and Linda McKay who is with the Burlington Public Library. Linda McKay is a dedicated Visiting Library Service Volunteer at the Burlington Public Library. She delivers books to several customers, who are unable to travel to the library themselves, and they think the world of Linda.

One such as example , as it happened in our neighbouring community of Hamilton. In the 1950’s a group of mothers desperate to find a cure for polio, which was an epidemic at that time, formed the Marching Mothers and went door to door in their neighourhoods, collecting dimes for research. The Marching Mothers were instrumental in supporting the research of Dr. Jonas Salk, whose polio vaccine was released in 1955, putting an end to the epidemic. The Marching Mothers movement today is known as the March of Dimes.

This is only one example of an organization that made a significant difference in the lives of Canadians and exemplifies the Ripple effect of how the action of a few can and do change the lives of many.


The Seniors Ambassador Connector Program was pilot project in Burlington and the ripple effect is that it is now expanding to Halton Hills. Shown here are the Burlington Ambassadors.

The Seniors Ambassador Connector Program was pilot project in Burlington and the ripple effect is that it is now expanding to Halton Hills.
Volunteer Halton is privileged to work on a daily basis with like-minded individuals and groups who identify a need and move into action. We see every day individuals who answer the call for change, come together as strangers, connect through a cause and end up with lasting friendships. When asked volunteers always mention that they could not do the work without the support of their Coordinator, Manager of Volunteers.

These professionals dedicate long hours organizing, preparing and supporting the work of volunteers and volunteers themselves.  Today we recognize and celebrate the wonderful volunteers who come from all walks of life, different experiences and from all ages to create the ripple effect that changes lives and communities!

Edwardh chose to leave her audience with a pungent thought to ponder.

Noah’s Ark was built by volunteers
The Titanic was built by professionals.

That sort of sums it up – doesn’t it?

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