National Volunteer Week: Caroline Price

The hardest part about retiring for me was losing the daily connection with my “family” of colleagues. It was one of the reasons I was actively looking for a volunteer role when a position with ALS Canada turned up in an online search. If an opportunity presents itself at the right time, I generally throw myself in 100%. So, for the next six years, I spent every Wednesday at ALS Canada offering to help with any office work that needed to be done. I was happy enough knowing I was needed, and even happier knowing that my regular shift meant I would see familiar faces every week. I would meet new people. I would get to know what makes them laugh. I would feel a sense of belonging.

My volunteer role with ALS Canada also gave me the chance to hone a new set of skills. I am an illustrator by profession, a craftsperson in my leisure time, but also someone who loves putting things in order, filing things away, checking off lists. Helping out with the many organizational tasks involved in supporting the WALK for ALS was very satisfying. On some days, there would be 10 of us packing boxes of materials to ship to participating communities, or preparing mailings. It was a big job getting everything out on time, but like everything else I do in my life, I wanted to do it well. On a good day, I could stuff 1,700 envelopes without a single paper cut!

Perhaps one of my favourite memories from my years volunteering with ALS Canada was the chaos and excitement surrounding the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge. At that time, I was volunteering up to three days a week just to help keep up with the mountains of mail coming in every day. It was wild. We would receive gifts as small as $5 and as large as $5,000 from a single donor. The energy was infectious.

More recently, the projects I have worked on – including transferring paper records to digital format — have all part of a concerted effort to make the organization more effective and more efficient so that donor dollars would have the maximum impact.

People come to volunteering for different reasons. Unlike many of the volunteers with ALS Canada, I don’t have a personal connection with the disease, but even working behind the frontlines, I’ve learned so much about some of the difficulties facing people living with ALS. I’m just glad I’ve been able to make a meaningful contribution. Volunteering has always been part of my life, from designing sets for a puppet show when I was 19 years old, to teaching swimming with Special Olympics for teenagers and young adults with mental disabilities. I don’t know where or when my next opportunity to volunteer will pop up, but when I jump on it, I know I will be doing something valued and important.

Each day during National Volunteer Week, we are posting the story of a different ALS Canada volunteer here on our blog. Each person profiled has different reasons for volunteering, skills they bring to the table, and tasks they are responsible for, but – like all our volunteers — what they share in common is a passion for helping to make ALS a treatable, not terminal disease.

Posted in: Stories, Volunteers