It’s National Volunteer Week, the perfect time to share my reflections on what volunteerism has meant to me and to my family.
After retiring from Operator Services at TELUS in 2000, I began serving with my fellow TELUS Community Ambassadors who are a dedicated group of current employees and retirees who volunteer for a variety of causes across the country. I do everything from making heart pillows that bring comfort to those about to undergo heart surgery, to fleece blankets for babies, and care kits for teens in need. It’s an amazing opportunity to re-connect with my former colleagues and even some that I never had a chance to work with. We share stories, and at the same time, creating something that we know will help others in their time of need. I was even able to deliver a hand-made pillow to my brother who underwent heart surgery, so I saw first-hand what these care items mean to people.
I first began contributing to my community while growing up in Saskatchewan as a youngster. My parents believed in leading by example and were known to help wherever they were needed in our rural farming community. They would pitch in at local events and community fairs. They taught me the value of paying it forward to those in need and somehow that generous spirit always found its way back to my own family when we needed it.
When I became an adult, I would do my part by lending a hand in the Kensington community by organizing bingo games and social fundraisers to help build playground equipment for the local kids. I was happy to do anything to help make my community a little brighter.
I’ve done my best to share the values I learned from my parents with my own kids. We them the importance of volunteerism by getting them involved at an early age. I also believe that actions speak louder than words and, by involving them; they are more likely to get the message about why it’s important to help others. Today, my own kids, who are now adults and have children of their own, are paying it forward by being very involved in the local sports community and participating in various charity and fundraising activities close their home.
One other important lesson I have learned is don’t wait until you are retired to start volunteering. If you make it part of your life at an early age, it just becomes a natural part of your life later. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, there is always some time to give back in even the smallest of ways. Today, I am an active volunteer for the Northlands Exhibition organization helping out in a variety of volunteer roles. Every year, I also help out at the TELUS Day of Giving, the company’s national volunteer event. I do everything from make sandwiches for the homeless, to help clean up local parks, to participate in the TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes.
At the recent TELUS Community Ambassadors Gala, I was honoured as the Volunteer of the Year award for Edmonton. I was tremendously overwhelmed and touched to receive this award. I was not prepared at all and feel very humbled as I don’t think I do anything special. I just try to do what comes from the heart.
It really does give you a good feeling inside when you are able to give back and help others. It’s so important to find a purpose in life and a cause that is bigger than yourself. You don’t need anything in return and I actually sleep better at night knowing that I have done a little something to help someone else.
TELUS Community Ambassador, Linda Ardiel