Volunteers are an essential part of our organization. Did you know that Epilepsy Durham Region’s roots lie in volunteering? More than 30 years ago, this organization began as a group of parent volunteers providing support for families impacted by epilepsy in our community. While Epilepsy Durham Region has grown so much, now manned by full-time staff members, volunteers still play a critical role in the success of our programs and services, with a volunteer Board of Directors, and roughly 30 volunteers providing more than 1800 hours of volunteer time each year.
Canada’s National Volunteer Week is April 24th – 30th, 2022. Here are some interesting highlights from Statistics Canada (Sinha, 2015) that show some Volunteering Facts in our country:
- In 2013, 44% of Canadians aged 15 years and older volunteered for a charitable or non-profit organization.
- The rate of volunteering was highest among teens aged 15 to 19, at 66%. This was followed by Canadians aged 35 to 44 (48%). Rates subsequently decline with age, with the lowest rates recorded among Canadians aged 75 years and older (27%).
- A lack of time was the leading barrier to volunteering, reported by two-thirds of Canadians who did not volunteer in the previous 12 months. An inability to make a long-term commitment was also reported by 62% of non- volunteers.
- Most volunteers stated that volunteering gave them a chance to acquire or improve their skills. Ranking the highest was interpersonal skills (63%), followed by communication skills (43%) and organizational and managerial skills (40%).
We are grateful for our volunteers who put in countless hours of support. Volunteering builds communities where people live happier, healthier, and more compassionate lives: by putting empathy into action, we create a stronger, more connected Durham Region. Cousineau & Misener (2019) studied volunteers who experienced meaning in their volunteer engagement by perceiving they were making a difference on both an individual and a community level. EDR offers ways to link with our community and develop lifelong relationships.
This month, we are pleased to share some insights and experiences from Epilepsy Durham Region volunteer and Youth Ambassador, 21-year-old Teegan Latour. We value Teegan’s dedication to Epilepsy Durham Region over the last 7 years. Teegan is a strong leader, and passionate advocate, and remains for EDR one of our biggest supporters. Teegan inspires others to not give up.
Please read below for an exclusive interview with Teegan.
1. What is your connection to epilepsy?
Answer: I started with a phone call for support and information and became involved as a volunteer shortly after that.
2. When were you diagnosed with epilepsy? What was that like?
Answer: I was born having a seizure and was officially diagnosed with Epilepsy at two years old. Because I was so young, I don’t remember what it was like.
3. What impact has epilepsy had on you?
Answer: It impacts my daily living because I must remember to take medication three times a day and be careful at events with different kinds of lights. I also make sure I get enough sleep.
4. What societal stereotypes about epilepsy do you want to disrupt?
Answer: I want people to know that there is more than one kind of seizure and not everyone with epilepsy shakes and sometimes you don’t know someone is having a seizure. I also want people to know that I can do all the same things they can and having epilepsy doesn’t stop me.
5. What do you do to keep yourself healthy?
Answer: I eat healthily and try to get exercise and sleep.
6. Why do you volunteer for Epilepsy Durham Region?
Answer: I volunteer to help others that struggle with the same or similar issues as I do and to support people and families affected by epilepsy.
7. What is your greatest volunteer accomplishment?
Answer: My greatest accomplishment was the year I dedicated my art skills to making projects to fundraise for EDR. I made bracelets and painted, and all my projects were sold at events and raised over $8000 for the year.
8. What is your favourite volunteer moment?
Answer: My favourite moment was the Masquerade Ball when I got to speak, sell artwork, and meet Ken Shaw!
9. Are there still new ways that you would like to volunteer?
Answer: Yes, I want to continue going to events, speaking, and selling my artwork.
10. What do you think are some barriers that prevent people with epilepsy from volunteering and what advice would you give them?
Answer: The stigma of epilepsy stops people from volunteering, and I would say to not be afraid to get out there and spread the word about this fantastic supportive community that is an extended family.
Request for more volunteers!
Volunteering allows you to give back to Durham Region, develop new skills, and meet people with similar interests. As more in-person events are organized, we look to expand our volunteer group. Please contact us with questions about how to get involved. You can also check out our volunteering page and submit your application form.
When you volunteer with Epilepsy Durham Region, you will support:
Special Events: This includes Purple Day, Bingo, the annual Epic Golf Tournament, and more. This allows you to gain experience organizing and running events. Some duties include: event planning and management, sign-in and sign-out supervision, attending to activity booths, and engaging with attendees.
Children’s Programs: Engage children in epilepsy education and awareness. Volunteering with children’s programs allows you to gain experience working with children and developing child-friendly content.
Classroom: Join us to develop and present content for Ontario classrooms, either virtually or in-person. Classroom volunteering presents a unique opportunity to work with children and youth, connect with schools in our community, refine and develop presentation skills and competencies, and develop content for students K-12.
Admin Support: Help us engage with clients and maintain our daily business practices. Duties include helping with email responses, telephone operations, and bookkeeping. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain experience in business administration and processes.
Finally, we wish to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to all our valued volunteers who have given their time to raise awareness for Epilepsy Durham Region and to support those in our community who continue to live with epilepsy.
Cousineau, L., Misener, K. (2019) Volunteering as Meaning-Making in the Transition to Retirement, Anserj, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 61-77
Erik L. Lachance (2021) COVID-19 and its Impact on Volunteering: Moving Towards Virtual Volunteering, Leisure Sciences, 43:1-2, 104-110, DOI: 10.1080/01490400.2020.1773990
Sinha, M., (2015) Volunteering in Canada, 2004 to 2013, Statistics Canada, https://books.scholarsportal.info/uri/ebooks/ ebooks0/gibson_cppc/2015-09-25/1/11082071