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Volunteerism in Alberta: 100 years of Celebrating Community
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Volunteer Profiles
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Organization Name: Volunteer Edmonton

Volunteer's Name: Ellen Haimila

About this volunteer:
Ellen Haimila, mother of one student, has been a volunteer at the Newton School ever since her son was first enrolled there. She is part of the Parent Council, attends Key Communicator meetings, and has assumed responsibility as the General Manager for the Casino. Ellen is a proud parent and is always present at school functions to cheer on her son and all the other students. Newton School is truly blessed to have her commitment and involvement.

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Organization Name: Volunteer Edmonton

Volunteer's Name: Diane Dubois

About this volunteer:
Diane Dubois volunteers at Sifton School. She helps out in the classrooms, the office, the Food for Thought program and any place else that she’s needed. She says, “The word ‘volunteer’ to me means an extra helping hand. And I like to do it because it makes me feel proud to help and to see smiling faces on kids when you can help them achieve something new. That is why I like to be a volunteer.”

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Organization Name: Volunteer Edmonton

Volunteer's Name: Ken Pohl

About this volunteer:
Ken is a long-time community volunteer who describes his experiences below:

“In October of 2002, I signed on as a volunteer at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). I volunteer at the CNIB in various capacities such as faxing for the Accounting department, working in the Salesroom, assisting the Seniors Program Coordinator plan and organizing a wide range of programs and functions. In addition to that, I help coordinate special events such as the Volunteer Recognition Evening, the Aloha Run ad the Visions Lunch. I also assist in other departments that could use my help when I am able. I work at the CNIB anywhere between 4 and 25 hours a week.

One of the reasons I volunteer with the CNIB is because my vision disability keeps me from getting a permanent job. It also allows me to use the skills that I learned in Red Deer College.

I also wanted to help the CNIB because they were there to help me when I needed them. My goal is to give back to the community whatever I can.”

Thanks to the work of people like Ken, the CNIB is better able to provide support for people with vision disabilities and help raise community involvement.

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Organization Name: Volunteer Edmonton

Volunteer's Name: Agathe Swiderski

About this volunteer:
The volunteer hairdressers at Bissell Centre regularly give free haircuts to hundreds of people who have no money to pay for this simple but essential service. The Sisters of Charity started this volunteer group of haircutters in Edmonton’s inner city more than 10 years ago. Today, the group has several haircutters who visit the Bissell Centre and other inner city organizations nearly every week to provide this wonderful service.

Agathe Swiderski is one of the founding members. She says, “I see a great need for hair cuts — an essential service needed by everyone. It answers to the call of the Sisters of Charity to serve the poor. Haircutting in the inner city is very rewarding work. Seeing the smile on the faces of the guys is very rewarding. They are so appreciative.”

The other haircutters agree that it is rewarding to know they are helping out many homeless people in a very important way. Alice Vest, another 10-year volunteer haircutter said, “It makes me feel good to see how proud people feel as they look in the mirror after a haircut.”

Not only do the haircuts boost the pride and dignity of people in the inner city, they also give them a chance to embark towards a more positive direction — a chance to get a job, or go to school, or be accepted in the broader community. Bissell Centre wishes to acknowledge the incredible contribution of the dedicated volunteer haircutters.

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Organization Name: Volunteer Edmonton

Volunteer's Name: Ann Robson

About this volunteer:
As a parent helper At Sifton School, Ann Robson’s services are valued. Ann is a former teacher. She helps students learn English, improve their reading levels, and give the students one-on-one attention and praise so their confidence is raised. Volunteerism is also important to Ann’s husband Steve, who is a past president of the school’s parent council.

The children’s faces “light up” when Ann comes to the class. Ann states that the reason she volunteers is, “I love working with kids. I enjoy helping the kids in my neighbourhood be the best they can be.”

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