Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 29, 2009
Volunteers give the gift of their time
CSS honours those who have made a special contribution by helping those in need
Shelley Tupper was presented with the Outstanding Volunteer Award for her volunteer work with Kairos House and the Supported Independent Living Program, Disability Service.
Tupper has been a friend and volunteer at Kairos House, a residential hospice for men and women living with HIV and AIDS, since September 2003.
She began her journey with Kairos House as a grocery shopper and resident visitor. But she does a lot more.
"The residents love her special attention - hemming a pair of pants, helping residents file their taxes, or baking and sharing a special treat," said Danielle Ouellette, who presented the award to Tupper. "Her kindness and concern is respected and valued by clients and staff."
Tupper, a federal employee with Canada Revenue Agency, says knowing she is making a difference in the residents' lives is reward enough for her. "It's thrilling, exciting," she said of the award.
In 2005, Tupper expanded her volunteer involvement with CSS by joining the Supported Independent Living Program's aquasize exercise outing twice a month at Grand Trunk Pool.
The aquasize exercise group was established as a means of encouraging outreach clients to improve their physical fitness, and foster social interaction.
"Shelley has been an enthusiastic, albeit water-logged, role model and friend to the participants," Ouellette said. "She is a warm, caring and genuine friend to many at Catholic Social Services."
Jordan Kerr has made an extraordinary contribution to CSS' Children's Group Care & Family Living Program the last three years. In late 2006 Kerr joined as a volunteer at CSS' 52nd Street residential program for youth, ages 10-13, who have emotional and psychosocial challenges.
"He was a wonderful role model and support to the children living at the residence," said Jasmine AbuMsemah, who presented the outstanding volunteer award to Kerr in absentia.
"Jordan helped the kids with homework, exhibited a keen interest in their activities and achievements, organized games and activities to do with them, and attended important occasions like birthdays, case conferences, and going-away parties."
Kerr also volunteered with CSS' Family Living Program as a workshop facilitator aide. He was a particularly effective support with the Handling Anger for Teens workshop.
"Jordan had a remarkable ability to relate to and encourage participation by the teens," AbuMsemah said. "He was valued as a respectful, thoughtful, and supportive leader in all the workshops he assisted with."
Kerr has moved on to a new job in Lac La Biche having recently completed his studies at the University of Alberta and could not attend the CSS meeting.
Friedland is a trusted and valued literacy tutor to Alvin, a student in the literacy program, which helps adults with developmental disabilities to improve their reading and writing skills.
Friedland and Alvin, who is in his 50s, have been working together since early 2006. "I enjoy working with Alvin a lot," she said in an interview. "It just feels that he is getting smarter and smarter and that's a real reward for me."
Friedland was surprised at winning the award. "I'm quite taken aback and quite honoured by it," she said.
"Joan is extraordinary at being able to find topical resources of interest to Alvin, and adapting them into captivating and fun literacy lessons," said award presenter Toyo Turner.
"She is also very creative at trying new strategies to help Alvin achieve his literacy goals. As a result of her persistence and adaptive tutoring style, Alvin is able to work on material that would have frustrated him a year ago."
Friedland and Alvin have developed a positive and trusting relationship, and Alvin feels comfortable sharing his long-term dreams with her, Turner said in his presentation. "With Joan's dedicated commitment, creativity, hard work, and respect for her student, Alvin has made steady progress towards his literacy goals."
As a tutor, Lam supports newly-arrived immigrant youth as they adjust to the Canadian culture and school system, while helping improve their English speaking and writing skills.
He is currently helping mostly young refugees from Africa who are attending schools in the city and have difficulty with their academic work. Lam tutors on Thursdays after school and on Saturday mornings and afternoons. About 20 students come to each session.
"Students come in with their homework or any kind of academic problems they may have and we help them," the Honk Kong native explained in an interview.
What does Lam get out of this? "I get a lot of friendships, a lot of really good relationships with the students," he said.
"I guess we went beyond school because they come to me with any kind of personal problem. If they want somebody to talk to, they come to me. I guess they see me as a friend, not just a tutor."
"Homework Club students are drawn to Michael because of his enthusiastic and positive attitude, great sense of humour, and expert tutoring abilities," noted Taro Hashimoto, who presented the outstanding volunteer award to Lam.
"Michael takes a special interest in each student making them feel respected, valued, and included. When he arrives, everyone brightens in his presence.
"Michael is one of the most conscientious and dependable volunteers the homework club has ever had. He has contributed over 450 hours of service, while juggling his full-time studies at the University of Alberta."
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