Meet Our Volunteers

2015 Celebrated Volunteers

CIBC – Recipient of the Anne Fawcett Corporate Community Spirit Award

We are pleased to present our partners at CIBC with this year’s Anne Fawcett Award for Corporate Community Spirit. We are fortunate to already have great friends in CIBC, through the CIBC Youth Vision Scholarship and their gift to our Strong Start, Great Future Capital Campaign. This year they blew us away with their generosity. We had four weeks to build the green roof at the new Cooper Koo Family Cherry St. YMCA and between April 27th – May 26th, 2015, sixty CIBC employee volunteers representing five different business areas helped build the green roof. They did this with a smile, with humour and with such a sense of fun. Joining community volunteers and other corporate teams, CIBC employee volunteers were engaged in every aspect of building the green roof from scratch. The range of activities included deck and planter assembly, garden edge details, stone placement, moving and grading soil, laying irrigation and electrical lines, and planting. As a result, the 30,000 square foot green roof will be one of the largest accessible greens roofs in the GTA. When the Cooper Koo Family Cherry St. Y opens next year, safe and inclusive programming will take place on the green roof, strengthening community health on a physical, mental, social and environmental level and we will always remember the 60 CIBC employees who had a hand in creating such a beautiful space. Thank you CIBC!

Larissa

Larissa is a volunteer at a Brampton YMCA Child Care Centre. She volunteers for 30 hours each week. Every day, she brings a big smile and warm hello. She is dedicated to helping the children with daily routines and transitions.

Larissa is happy to assist the teachers to do whatever is asked of her which may be setting up for lunch, washing dishes, wiping down tables and sweeping the floor. She assists the children each nap time, soothing them while they fall asleep. Larissa faces her own challenges on a daily basis. Simple tasks that we may feel are easy are a struggle for her. Something such as tying her shoes which she solves by wearing Velcro shoes. Larissa is very aware of her struggles but never stops encouraging the children to learn new things. A child once asked why she did not have laces in her shoes and she said, “Because I am not able to tie my shoes, but I can get the teacher to show you how to tie yours.” She has learned to independently follow organizational tasks, such as posting reminder notes and development books into the children’s cubbies. She just learned to recognize all the children’s names with the help of their pictures. Taking the children on community walks can be challenging, having Larissa hold the children’s hand and to help the teacher in monitoring the children’s safety is very comforting. Larissa models acceptance to all children and is an excellent role model for inclusion. Larissa is what being part of a community is all about and demonstrates all of the YMCA’s core values. The love and support Larissa receives from her family is amazing and this shows in her demeanour. Her parents are constantly telling us how lucky Larissa is to have the YMCA in her life, whereas we believe we are the lucky ones to have her ours.

Allan

Allan has been volunteering at a YMCA Markham Centre as a Workshop Facilitator for over two and a half years. He is known for his popular social media workshops, which he delivers to members in our Ontario Self-Employment Benefit Program. He brings his professional experience as a writer and from working for a search engine optimization company to our YMCA. He shares his industry expertise and insights with members who are new entrepreneurs receiving training and funding to start up their own businesses. Allan offers a series of popular workshops such as:

  • YouTube Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization from the basics to the advanced
  • How to market Your business through LinkedIn & Twitter
  • Managing Your reputation online

The sessions are fully attended with a lot of positive feedback such as “Great Workshop!” “Excellent instructor”, “Very useful information!” “Excellent!”, “Very practical”, “Learned a lot about ninja tricks!” etc. Allan connects well with YMCA members. He is easily approachable and always ready to help – often staying well after a workshop has finished to talk to members one on one, listen to their questions and provide them with feedback. He is a real champion of the YMCA Markham Small Business Centre and each time we approach Allan to lend a hand, he is readily available to help without hesitation. We feel so lucky to partner with someone who truly wants to see other succeed! Thank you Allan!

North York NYLD Mentors

This North York Newcomer Youth Leadership Development Mentor Team is comprised of seven outstanding individuals who are Janice, Kai, Rheign, Melody, Ralph, Mina and Ellaine. These individuals always demonstrate the importance of leadership and being a role model for newcomer youth in their community. At such a young age, they have contributed lots to their community by maintaining a safe environment and demonstrating the six YMCA values (respect, responsibility, inclusiveness, caring, health and honesty). Since the beginning of the school year they have helped steer the program together by bringing in different ideas that surely improved the program in various ways. Each month they commit their time to facilitate workshops in their “Create Healthy Habits” series. Topics such as mental health, managing finances, healthy eating, time management, cyber bullying, relationships education, health and fitness and many more were covered. Each and every member of the group has contributed lots of their time and effort to research, gather, and present their workshops. The newcomer youth in our community are lucky to have mentors who want to see them succeed! We are really proud of our mentors and all they have achieved! Congratulations!

Ebi

In 2012, Ebi joined the YMCA Newcomer Youth Leadership Development program. Being a participant in the program helped Ebi to make new friends, develop leadership skills, and get involved in her community. She had such a positive experience that she became a volunteer mentor assisting staff to lead activities. Ebi also loves sports, fitness and dance. She combined all these passions and completed her training to teach Arriba at the YMCA 2 days a week. She is an energetic and great fitness leader. Her dedication to both YMCA programs earned her an Ontario Volunteer Service Award for Youth earlier this year. It has been a pleasure to see Ebi thrive as a young person in our community. She has learned a lot about Canada and is always willing to share her knowledge with other newcomer youth. She has gained leadership skills and confidence with her experience volunteering as a mentor and as a fitness leader. She is willing to help others and always gives her 100% effort. We can always call on her and she always comes in with a smile on her face ready to volunteer. Ebi is a volunteer that enjoys what she does for the YMCA and we really appreciate all the happiness that she brings to our member when she teaches.

Scarborough Tai Chi

The Scarborough YMCA has an outstanding tai-chi program. The group of volunteers that has emerged from this program have been an amazing asset to our members and our community. Tai chi volunteers take complete leadership over some of the most successful and popular community events. They lead the annual Lunar New Year celebration, which brings together hundreds of members from our Scarborough community and brings in local business partners as well. These volunteers solicit donations for events, organize tai chi demonstrations and plan for other entertainment as well. They also take the lead on our “Tai chi Fun Day” which supports the annual Megathon event, raising thousands of dollars to support our Strong Start, Great Future Campaign.

Our tai chi volunteer group is made up of many long term members. We can’t thank them enough for all of their efforts, they truly are an amazing group of individuals.

Henry

Henry is a true ambassador of the YMCA. He is an active Philanthropy and Special Events Volunteer with our Markham Centre and a Group Fitness Instructor at a Toronto Centre. Every year, he supports the Chinese Lunar New year event and has been instrumental in helping us to bring 1500 people to the center to celebrate this wonderful event. Last year, Henry co-led the 1st Annual Karaoke and Line Dance event which was a huge success, bringing 450 people to the Y and raising over $13,000. This past June Henry led a women’s health series, in partnership with the Paragon’s Lions Club, to raise awareness of and support the YMCA. As a result of his efforts, the YMCA received $5,000 to the annual campaign. You can find Henry teaching 2 exciting cyclefit classes that are always busy. Whether it is raising important dollars for our annual campaign, finding ways to get new members to the center, or teaching spinning, Henry is always thinking of the YMCA. His passion and dedication to building healthy communities is always evident. He puts in countless hours to each and every event or program he is involved in and we are so happy to be his partners!

Wally

Wally has been one of the Oshawa YMCA’s longest serving volunteers. He began teaching CycleFit in 2002 and hasn’t looked back. Over the years, he has developed quite a following and fills the room every time he teaches. Although he works a full time job, he still manages to cover classes when he can as he is committed to helping our members with their health and fitness goals. He always arrives early to greet his class participants and often stays late to chat with them.

Wally is our poster boy for “leads by example.” Quite simply, he is one of the hardest workers you will ever meet. At age 72, he is still as active as anyone who walks through our door. He is currently working on his second career with the University of Toronto after completing 30 years of service with the Canadian Air Force. Every day he commutes to work from Oshawa to downtown Toronto yet still finds time to play hockey three times per week, perform in a band, teach cycle fit classes, and even attend weekly personal training sessions. Aside from all of that, he is also active in the Oshawa community, coaching little league baseball for special needs children. What Wally has accomplished throughout his lifetime is inspiring to those who meet him. His leadership, commitment, and positive attitude make him a total asset to our community. We all look up to him and appreciate everything he does to serve our members. Thank you Wally!

Margot

Margot has been a Group Fitness volunteer at a downtown YMCA for over 6 years. She currently teaches Bodyfit Run. She also substitutes for Muscle fit classes. She is well known for her very friendly, outgoing personality always taking time to welcome new people into her class and to talk to people afterward. Margot is open to the concept of new ideas she always attends workshops to improve upon her skills as an instructor. She also mentors new instructors to help them improve their classes. Margot was an outstanding leader in our 2015 YMCA Megathon. She led a group of volunteers to raise over $4,000 for our MegaRun event. This involved recruiting other volunteers, creating fundraising pages, collecting donations for an auction and speaking in front of classes telling members about the YMCA and what great work we all do. We are so fortunate to have a helpful, compassionate, leader in our volunteer partner Margot and today we congratulate her on her award!

Monica and Ricardo

Monica and Ricardo are a dynamic husband and wife team leading group fitness classes both together and on their own. They lead the most energetic classes that draw in members from all walks of life and abilities. Initially starting off as an Arriba instructor, Monica’s passion drew her to other classes such as CardioFit-Drum and Step. She is now a familiar face to our many members during the morning, evening and weekend classes! With a busy work schedule at the Hospital for Sick Children, Ricardo squeezes in as much time as possible to co-lead classes with Monica and to lead his own class. This dynamic duo supports their work team by jumping in to assist with classes whenever possible, even if it means teaching both in the morning and evening on the same day! Monica teaches anywhere from 8-13 hours per week, their energy is endless. Often they are seen working on new choreography to keep their classes fresh and members excited to come back for more. Their classes are always full. This couple is outstanding in many ways. They work as a team and emulate the Y values over and over again. Monica and Ricardo go out of their way to involve people in their classes and make them feel like they belong. Working in healthcare, Ricardo knows the value of a healthy lifestyle. They lead by example and encourage people to be active and healthy not just while at the Y, but in their overall life. Respect is another core value that they demonstrate on a daily basis by always treating every person fairly, showing up on time and giving a lot of notice if they are unable to be there. They get to know their members and they care. They have supported members through health challenges and encourage members to be involved in helping each other out. Thank you Monica and Ricardo!