Christopher N. is our Volunteer of the Month for January!

January 5, 2017

A new year, and a new volunteer of the month! For January 2017, we celebrate Christopher N. for his dedication and hard work. He started volunteering with us a couple of months ago, yet he left a positive mark on all of the work he did.

How did you get involved with QMUNITY?

Being semi-retired from corporate life, I knew that I wanted to work with my queer community and engage my heart in my volunteer work. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my life as a queer man, so I felt it was time to give back to my community. Choosing QMUNITY was easy. I admire the breadth and depth of services QMUNITY provides. As the Annual Report this year states: “We provide personalised support services for queer, trans and two spirited people of all ages to live happier, healthier lives”. So often, services are fragmented. QMUNITY moves past that narrow focus. The holistic focus so well outlined in the Annual Report is both vital and admirable.

Tell me a bit about yourself

I’m a farmer’s son, brought up in the English countryside. Through university, I became an adopted Londoner and worked there for several years being challenged by math, I ended up taking an MBA with a finance major. That was weird but I got through! Like many young queers – remember ‘queer’ was a term of abuse when I grew up – I was ostracised at school for being ‘different’ – academically bright but useless at sports, except track and field.

Later, I worked for years in corporate life as an HR director and management consultant in Canada and the UK. I came to Vancouver from London on what was to be a three year work assignment but met my partner, Ron, and my life plans changed – for the better!

What’s your favourite aspect of working at QMUNITY?

The team and other volunteers. A wonderful group of people! Helping clients realise through words or even body language such as a smile, that they are in a safe, accepting, queer-positive and loving space. Knowing I’m part of an organisation that delivers. QMUNITY’s range of activities and achievements is amazing.

QMUNITY pushes me out of my comfortable, narrow ‘bubble’ as a self-identified gay man to embrace the queer community of which I’m a part. I like that very much.

Tell me a short story of an interaction at QMUNITY that stands out for you.

A few weeks ago, a person came very slowly up the stairs. I could see he was very tentative and scared. As he approached the desk, his fears were even more obvious. Slowly, he told me he was from an African nation with especially draconian anti-queer policies and was seeking to enter Canada as a refugee.  I watched as his meetings with members of the team over the weeks, have changed him. Now, he looks me straight in the eye, his voice is firmer, he smiles. I don’t believe his refugee claim has been approved yet, but the change is so evident. I believe QMUNITY is making him safe and accepted and for first time in his life, he seems proud of who he is.

What does your happy place look like?

Sometimes being alone or spending time with people I love. Good conversation and laughter; exploring off the beaten track, experiencing new cultures,

Message from Cass – Seniors Coordinator: Your diligence and warmth have earned you the admiration of all those working alongside you, and those supported by you – Thank you

Interview by Tash McAdam