The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario salutes these wonderful volunteers and their inspiring stories!
During the year 2002 Beverley did not quite feel herself. She had quit smoking in July and thought “boy this withdrawal thing is quite the kicker.” Beverley was constantly tired, experienced flutters and was easily winded despite the fact that she was watching what she ate and attended Curves on a regular basis. Her doctor at the time felt that her symptoms were a result of anxiety or panic attacks and prescribed medication. However her husband was not satisfied with this treatment thus accompanied Beverley to her next doctor’s appointment and insisted she have an angiogram.
Thanks to her husband’s intervention - Beverley’s angiogram results indicated she had two blockages - one at 90% and the other at 95%. The medical staff at Sunnybrook said she was a walking time bomb and was lucky to be alive. As a result, Beverley at the age of 48 had successful double bypass surgery in 2003.
With a new outlook on life and a healthy body she decided to become affiliated with the HSFO. As an employee at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in Pickering she began participating on the Big Bike fundraising event. In her first year she raised $2000 and has set her goals higher each year. Beverley is very passionate when she asks for donations and reminds people that it is important to give back and in Bev’s words “you never know when you may be impacted by heart related complications.” She is also a very creative fund raiser. Beverley attended a shower in Niagara Falls this year and advertised her involvement with Big Bike and included “red” self addressed and stamped envelopes for those to use if they wanted to support her efforts. It wasn’t a surprise that her family and friends would respond and the red envelopes came streaming in the mail the following week. To date, Beverley has raised over $8000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and plans to continue her involvement.
“Canvassing can be both selfless and selfish”, says Flo Cooper of Bloomfield Ontario. “The ‘selfish’ part is the fact that many people, including myself, volunteer because it simply makes you feel good. It’s also an opportunity to get out to see your neighbours, to meet new neighbours, to get some exercise and at the end of that cold and wintry February day – you feel really really good about what you’ve accomplished.”
Flo Cooper comes from a family of volunteers. ”It’s just how our parents brought us up. Even as youngsters – giving a little or a lot just meant you were doing the right thing and helping in your community,” says Flo.
That drive to ‘help’ became more real and more personal when Flo’s mother Mildred Mallory was diagnosed with heart disease in 1972. The term ‘cardiac cripple’ was a coined phrase in the 70’s but not one that Mildred was going to accept and according to her daughter Flo, Mildred was determined to survive and live a wonderful life.
“Research into cardiac disease was instrumental to my mother’s well being,” and Flo credits the work in research, medical breakthroughs and medications to giving her mother another 14 years with her family – where she not only survived, but lived a full and rewarding life. “Without the research that had already been done my mother would not have lived as long, or as well.”
Helen is a founding Director of our Chinese Canadian Council (CCC), which was established in 1992 in order to achieve the missions of the Foundation among the Chinese Community in The Greater Toronto Areas. These missions include reducing death and disability due to heart diseases and stroke through research, health promotion and advocacy.
Helen’s work for the Foundation has had a profound impact on the Chinese community’s knowledge of heart disease and stroke. She has constantly reached out to the Chinese community and creates opportunities for disseminating vital health information. She coordinates with various event organizers to ensure that the Foundation’s has a presence. Helen also started the Heartbeat News publication, which is distributed through a leading Chinese newspaper, medical clinics and on the internet.
For over two years, Helen was also instrumental in the production of a Chinese video on heart diseases and stroke. She raised over $25,000 for its production, despite limited resources. Since the final release of the video, Helen has tirelessly distributed the video to the public. Viewers can vividly see the threat and understand the importance of prevention through life style changes.
Another one of Helen’s contributions to the Foundation is the “Sing For Your Heart” Fundraising Gala, which she initiated over 10 years ago. During 1994 and 1995, when Helen was one of the co-chairs of the event, she successfully raised over $200,000 for the Foundation. In addition, the event is also one that the new Chinese immigrants can identify with and participate every year.
Helen has been well known for her enthusiasm and dedication to serve the community. At the age of 71, she possesses amazing energy. She never takes a day off. Congratulations! Helen was chosen as one of the 23 recipients of the 2002 Senior Achievement Awards by the Ministry of Citizenship.
Dianne Mathieu has been a volunteer since 1988. She got involved because heart disease and stroke run in her family.
"As a nurse practitioner, I had been teaching CPR courses for a number of years and so, of course, I became involved with the Foundation. I got a close up look at the excellent work the local chapters were doing and I could see that these volunteers were making a real difference in their communities. At the grass roots, neighbourhood, level it's volunteers who get the message out about heart disease and stroke and about the benefits of healthy living and exercise. Also it's kind of exciting to think that your fund raising is helping world-class scientific research into two major killers, heart disease and stroke," says Dianne.
"I also have the opportunity to meet people who have benefited from the work that the Foundation has supported which really makes it worthwhile! And last, but not least, it's a whole lot of fun."
You sure meet great people on the ‘Campaign’ trail!
That’s what Person to Person Campaign canvasser Dick Thomas says is one of the benefits of volunteering with HSFO.
Active with our St. Catharines/Thorold Chapter since the mid-90s, Dick wants to do his part. He’s motivated by the people he meets through volunteering, by connecting with those who benefit from the Foundation’s work, and by a sense of accomplishing something worthwhile.
In addition to canvassing during ‘Heart Month’ (February), Dick has also taken on a number of other Campaign volunteer roles, including leading teams of other canvassers and area captains and, most recently, heading up the whole initiative as Campaign Chair on the local Chapter Council.
As a self-employed semi-retired engineer, Dick’s schedule provides him with some flexibility regarding his volunteer work.
Committed to supporting a variety of community efforts and organizations –including a long association with Scouts Canada – Dick’s involvement with HSFO started with an invitation.
“Someone asked me and, since I had only a few other volunteer jobs on the go at the time, I said ‘why not?’!”
On Thanksgiving Day, 1993, Lori Robertshaw’s mother suffered heart failure and died.
“I miss her terribly,” Lori says. “She was the most generous, gracious, and strongest person I know.”
As a tribute to her Mom, and others in her life who have been affected by heart disease, Lori decided to donate some time to the Heart and Stroke Foundation to help raise funds for research and health promotion.
For the past several years, she’s volunteered with the Foundation’s Big Bike for Stroke program in Orangeville where she lives. Big Bike is a 30-seat cycle that tours Ontario between April and October. Corporate and community teams are recruited to ride the bike in their communities to raise funds. Team members who raise pledges for Heart & Stroke can earn great incentive prizes.
“It’s a great way to bring together a group of friends or co-workers to work together as a team, raise a lot of money, and have some fun all at the same time,” Lori explains.
Volunteering has become an important and fulfilling part of Lori’s life. “I find the people at the Foundation are knowledgeable and friendly. And they have a way of making you feel ‘indispensable’. All of that combined makes it easy to give my time!”
Like many, Lori juggles a busy personal life. She has a household to run, a family to raise, a full-time job and a part-time home business to manage. Still, she creates time to volunteer.
“To say that I volunteer without expecting anything in return would be a lie,” Lori admits. “What I’m guaranteed to receive is the joy that giving gives me!”
High blood pressure has been called the “silent killer”. But it can be controlled and sometimes prevented. Learning about your risks and what you can do to reduce them is the first step.
Meet HSFO volunteer Marlene Trussler. A retired registered nurse, Marlene has been volunteering with HSFO in Sault Ste. Marie for several years. Over the past year, she’s been devoting a significant part of her volunteer time to organizing blood pressure screening clinics around the community. These clinics take place in many locations, including malls, community events, seniors’ homes, and the local Foundation office.
It’s an ongoing effort that requires the coordination of dozens of nurse volunteers, many of whom Marlene has personally recruited to help. In 2002, this network of volunteer nurses screened well over two thousand people for high blood pressure.
Marlene is also a volunteer speaker with HSFO’s Community Presentations Program (CPP), a Foundation initiative which engages hundreds of health professional and lay volunteers in sharing healthy lifestyle and risk factor information with people in communities across the province. Marlene is helping to grow CPP in the Sault by orienting other nurses to the program.
Marlene is the recipient of the Sault Ste Marie Chapter’s “Volunteer of the Year” Award for her significant contributions.