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PAVRO LiVE 2020 Conference Chairs

Sharon Hudson-Alipanopoulos

I am the Volunteer Coordinator at Ontario Shores for Mental Health Sciences and have been developing a revitalized volunteer program, one that reflects the diversity of the community. I am also an instructor for the online Volunteer Management Certificate course with Sir Fleming College.   

I have been a volunteer many times and in various capacities. First, starting with PAVRO as the Conference Chair 2009 to 2011; various positions on the Board for my local AVA, DRAVA, including President 2015-16; and for the Board of Directors at Feed the Need Durham 2016-17. All of these roles helped me gain the perspective of a volunteer, and gave me the insight to be a better leader for those volunteers within my own programs.

The most challenging aspect of my career has always been the constant advocacy for the profession of volunteerism for both the administrators and the individuals volunteering.

Coming on board, to be part of the PAVRO Conference Committee, was an exciting opportunity to be part of the professional development for this field which unfolded abruptly into a new and exciting challenge. I credit the progress and ultimately the success of this virtual conference on the amazing talent and passion of this small but committed group of volunteers (Helena, Kristen, Deb, Tracy and of course Johanne Deschamps!). I am grateful to have these partners who are so supportive, and continue to be, throughout this challenge!

Helena Finn-Vickers
I will be celebrating 15 years as the Manager of Volunteer Resources and Spiritual & Religious Care, Patient Experience at Lakeridge Health this coming September! My background was seniors' activity centres and not-for-profits which actually put me on the path of volunteer engagement as my passion. The hospital setting has always been an interesting challenge—ever more so right now with none of the 1789 affiliated volunteers able to help us currently inside our hospitals.
It is absolutely the people I have the pleasure and privilege to interact with that keep me in this profession. I don’t have as much opportunity to interview new volunteers now, or meet people and hear what drives them to get involved (and later what keeps them involved), and I miss that. But that is what empowers me to want to do everything I can to make their volunteer experience a positive one. I have also loved my involvement and the people on the Boards of both DRAVA and PAVRO and now find myself wondering what the next volunteer challenge will be for me personally!
As a hospital system with five separate Auxiliary bodies, I am developing more empathy to their expressed concerns about levels of influence and decision-making authority. Balancing the best interests of individual volunteers, Auxiliary priorities, my departments’ activities, and set goals and projects, with what the organization wants and needs from all of us is a constant challenge requiring more hours in a day than I sometimes feel I can give. But I will keep trying.

As the Past President of PAVRO I was tasked with supporting recruitment efforts for the Board, and it was crystal-clear that finding the right Conference Chair was my top priority. One day it hit me that while I have never planned a conference, my dear friend and colleague Sharon has. For some reason she said yes immediately when I called her up to propose we co-chair the 2020 Conference. And right away we got to work recruiting our small but mighty team. We were very grateful to all who applied and are thrilled with our dedicated and resourceful committee who continue to put together a unique and exciting conference, no matter what COVID-19 throws at us.

PAVRO LiVE 2020 Conference Committee

Kristen Loblaw

I am proud to have worked in the non-profit sector for over two decades. I've worked in positions that have focused on the leadership of volunteers, fundraising, and event planning. I have been the Administrator for Volunteer Services for the London Public Library for the last 8½ years. I have been an active member of the Executive for my local AVA, LAVA, for a decade.

My favourite part of working with volunteers, and my own volunteering, is the ability to make great connections. I love helping volunteers find an opportunity that both meets their needs, as well as develops skills and forms new relationships. I am a life-long learner and love the opportunity to learn new things. It's one of the reasons I have stepped forward to take on the role of Vice-President of LAVA this September.

I feel very lucky to have such a popular program and work with over 450 volunteers annually. As the sole staff member in the department, my biggest challenge is finding the balance between finding rewarding opportunities and respecting the unionized environment. It's about good relationships, clear boundaries, and remembering that we work with humans not robots.

I have now attended five PAVRO LiVE conferences. Each one brought learning opportunities, fun experiences, and valuable connections across the province. I felt it was my time to give back and help create this environment for other PAVRO members. We could not have expected this year to turn out as it has when we started, but planning the 2020 PAVRO LiVE conference has been just as rewarding and valuable. It's been a great group of people to work with, and I know we've done our best to make sure this conference will be worth the wait!

Deb Wach

I am the Manager, Volunteer Services at Community Living Mississauga. Community Living Mississauga is a non-profit charitable organization that supports over 3,000 people, who have an intellectual disability, and their families. Our mission is to provide support to individuals who have an intellectual disability to ensure their quality of life in the community is meaningfully improved. I am responsible for volunteer and student placement engagement that supports our mission.

There are so many things that I like about my work with volunteers but the thing that motivates me most is seeing people achieve their personal, educational and career goals because of their experience volunteering with us.

The most challenging thing for me is not being able to see our volunteers on a regular basis. Community Living Mississauga has a centralized volunteer recruitment process for our many community supports and programs, and I am responsible for recruiting, orienting and training volunteers. After this is completed I assign them to a field site Supervisor.

I decided to volunteer for the 2020 Conference Committee because I had dinner with the Conference Committee at the 2018 conference in Mississauga. They were such a fun, enthusiastic and inspiring group that I decided, when I could carve out the time, I would offer my support to a conference.

Tracy Drenth

I'm the Coordinator of Volunteer Services at St. Joseph’s Health Care, London. We have nearly 1,000 volunteers across all five of our sites, who assist in 87 distinct program/service areas and contribute over 90,000 hours annually.

I love that our volunteers are so dedicated to St. Joseph’s. We have a number of volunteers who have been with us for over 30 years!

The most challenging issue for me would include the health requirements that the volunteers need prior to starting their position. This can sometimes be a barrier for them due to the wait time and cost.

I volunteered for the 2020 PAVRO Conference Committee because I enjoy collaborating with colleagues, near and far, to create opportunities and enhance the volunteer experience at any organization. I love to meet new people and thought this would be a great way to put some of my talents to work in order to benefit our profession!

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