Years of Volunteering: Five Volunteer Leaders We Love at QMUNITY
August 30, 2016
Honestly, I am amazed.
I look at our charts and databases, and I see names of folks who have been volunteering their time and energy with us for years upon years.
These are volunteers who joined QMUNITY even before I did, who build amazing connections within the organization, and provide a sense of dedication to our volunteering program.
Sitting in one of our Monday meetings, the staff started to throw around names of volunteers who have been changing lives of queer, trans, and two-spirit folks here in BC since the dawn of QMUNITY. To show how thankful we are, we decided to hold this space for them to tell us why they’re so dedicated to volunteering with us.
This is by no means a complete list of our amazing long running volunteers; we will return with more names to celebrate every now and then!
— Danny Ramadan, Volunteer Coordinator
Maureen runs one of our longest running support groups, Dear John I Love Jane, and is a face we see at all of our big events, supporting the organization with all of her might! Thank you Maureen!
Here is what Maureen shared with us:
“I came to QMUNITY looking for a coming out group, and because that group didn’t quite fit with my experience, I ended up starting my own group, Dear John I Love Jane. It’s for women leaving straight relationships for women – after living the straight life and – for a time – considering themselves to be straight too.
When I first walked up the stairs more than five years ago, feeling confused and lost, I immediately felt right at home. I knew I was in the right place. I continue to volunteer because I love the people at QMUNITY and the loving, supportive, non-judgmental space they create, and because I know the work I do makes a difference for women who are struggling with many of the same issues that I did. I also have a passion for justice and for consciousness-raising about queer issues, so sometimes I volunteer in other QMUNITY events as well.
When I share with people about my experience at QMUNITY, I always say the same thing: that it’s a fantastic place to volunteer, and that I’m honoured to be able to work with so many great people. I get so much back from the experience, and I plan to stick around for a while yet!”
Marcus is a welcoming face in our Information and Referral Services, and a reliable volunteer for our events. We call upon Marcus whenever we need something well done, and he never disappoints!
Here is what Marcus shared with us:
“My name’s Marcus, and I’ve been with QMUNITY since June of 2013. I’ve been involved in events like the Pride Youth Dance, fundraisers like Stack the Rack and working the QMUNITY booth at pride events around the city. But my home has always been where I first started with QMUNITY, behind the Information and Referrals desk.
When I first started, I was relatively new to being out, so volunteering was my way of connecting to the queer community and learning to understand myself.
At first, it was intimidating as a newly minted gay guy to meet so many different people from different walks of life and trying to support and direct them to the appropriate resources while still being unsure of myself. But as I volunteered more and more, it’s what I grew to love about being an IRS volunteer and a part of QMUNITY. I love the satisfaction of helping individuals seek their full potential and learning about the queer community through what I do. And it isn’t just those I meet at the desk that keep me coming back to QMUNITY. The staff and fellow volunteers here are so energetic and supportive that I know I will always have a place where I can feel safe and accepted, and make me want to help develop that sense of community.”
Nothing makes my Wednesday better than to spend a good hour throwing jokes, talking literature and enjoying amazing discussions with Tash. They bring so much care, support, understanding and attention to their role in IRS. Not to mention that their Young Adult books are so darn addictive!
Here is what Tash told us:
“I’m a teacher in real life, but I dream of being a full-time writer, and living a life of never-ending travel, which I do as much as possible whenever I can.
I was born in the hilly sheepland of Wales, have spent time on every continent except Antarctica (it’s on the list!) and I’ve lived in South Korea and Chile but I’m very happy calling Vancouver home.
I started volunteering at QMUNITY about a month after I moved to Vancouver, my partner’s mom had recommended it as a great place to get involved. I love being part of the Q community, helping people makes me feel really good and it’s always an adventure at the front desk! I’ve been there almost three years now, and loved every second of it. When I’m not at the Q I like to spend my time falling in streams, out of trees, learning to juggle, dreaming about zombies, dancing, painting, doing Karate, running away with the circus, and, my biggest pastime, writing young adult novels.
I hope to stay here for a long time, and continue volunteering with the amazing staff and clients at the Q.”
When I asked, Ayesh, one of our Youth Workers, about Sophie, they told me that Sophie’s really great! She’s really committed and has been helping with the program since before Ayesh started. She’s very caring and attentive. She’s been amazing at connecting with new youth and making them feel welcomed and important
Here is what Sophie told us about the experience:
“My name is Sophie Z. I moved here from China for further education six years ago, and I’m close to completing my master program in Counselling Psychology at UBC. In my leisure time, I enjoy reading, watching movies, hanging out with close friends, and various sports. Learning languages and solving puzzles are also my passion.
I was inspired after I talked to Adeline, a previous youth worker at QMUNITY, and started to volunteer in Youth Drop-ins in August 2013. I never really thought about why I continue to volunteer for this long. I guess there was simply no reason to stop. I’ve met a lot of great people at QMUNITY: youth, youth workers, other volunteers, and workshop facilitators.
I’m a quiet person, so I often wonder whether I’m active enough during the drop-ins as a volunteer. Meanwhile, I always connect better with youth who feel a bit shy in the group. I took a break recently due to graduation process and family visit. I look forward to returning to my volunteer shifts soon and also continuing to volunteer as a counsellor once I get registered.”
The longest running volunteer of them all, Vincent has been with us since 2004! He has a sweet smile, a dedicated attitude, and he is an open-minded, eager to learn queer senior! Thank you for everything, Vincent.
Here is what Vincent shared with us:
“I began volunteering in 2004 in the Generations side of what was then the Centre. Working with shut in Senior Queers and supporting them to get out into the community.
In 2006 I moved to Reception at the Centre. Over the years I have helped out with various events and also covering shifts in the Library. My main focus now is in Information and Referral Services.
I enjoy the time I spend at QMUNITY. I have got to know a lot of folks in the various programs and enjoy interacting with them. I continue to volunteer at Qmunity because I believe it is a vital part of the Queer Community. As a Queer man, I think that giving back to our community is necessary.
Volunteering in IRS challenges me to be always learning and it is satisfying giving information to clients and steering them in the right direction. Rarely does a shift go by that I have not learnt something new.
I am married to my husband Peter of 34 years. He is very supportive of my participation at QMUNITY. We volunteer and participate in other areas of the Queer Community frequently.”