It’s National Volunteer Week – celebrated this year from April 15-21 across Canada. It’s Made by Momma’s chance as a non-profit organization to say thanks and to show our heartfelt appreciation to our core – our volunteers – simply without whom we would not exist!
This week we will take a few moments to introduce you to some volunteers and the variety of tasks they perform that help Made by Momma support dozens of families each week. Because as we really do believe – It Takes a Village! Please share. Retweet. And celebrate the #valueofvolunteering with us.
The importance of giving back for a past board member and her family
Sometimes a Facebook popup can lead to a good thing. Take past Made by Momma Communications Coordinator and board member Renu Chandarana who kept seeing her friends ‘post’ or ‘like’ something on MBM’s Facebook page. She became intrigued and decided to check things out.
Gaining some free time once her young children started school, Renu had started looking for ways to meet new people while doing meaningful work. Made by Momma’s work in providing meals and nurturing care to moms and small children struck a personal chord with Renu. Her family had experienced a crisis when her children were very young, but were fortunate to have their own supportive village to help them through. She felt that it was her duty to pay it forward to those who were not so fortunate. Also, volunteering on the board in a leadership role would help her gain some professional experience.
As Communications Coordinator, Renu was involved in creating an e-newsletter, writing blog and social media posts, planning and executing fundraising events as well as speaking at community events. While not everyone’s strength, speaking publicly and sharing the Made by Momma story became Renu’s favourite part of volunteering. She regularly spoke at fundraising events as well as events hosted by community partners like Women Talk.
Serving on Made by Momma’s board brought many moments of pride for Renu, most notably competing in Social Venture Partners Calgary’s Fast Pitch 2016, in which she created a three-minute pitch to showcase Made by Momma’s innovation and social impact.
The importance of charity and giving back are values that Renu happily now shares with her daughters who find joy in donating their toys and clothes to other children.
As Renu shares, “Growing up Giving,” a slogan that Allyson Palaschuk (President of Made by Momma) introduced to me, is something that has become a core value in our home.”
Now forever connected, Renu plans to continue advocating for Made by Momma and the many women and families that we support. Her voice and dedication are always welcome!
Fundraiser, meal packer and board member extraordinaire
Former board member and volunteer extraordinaire Ellery Chyzyk has practically done it all during her multi-year volunteer stint with Made by Momma.
Recruited through Facebook like many volunteers, Ellery has been a driving force behind our event planning committee, planning several fundraisers including those recently held at Aussie Rules.
She has packed meals and kept board meetings on schedule and organized as secretary. She also willingly took over the volunteer director role last fall, holding two director roles simultaneously, helping to ensure that new volunteers were welcomed and oriented to the Made by Momma community.
Her favourite thing to do. “Depends on the day!” Clarifying, “I do enjoy being involved in more than one way so it is adjustable depending on my current availability and flexibility.”
“Ellery is the kind of volunteer member you want in your organization but are very rare to find,” said a fellow board member and vice president Wendy. “She takes on projects with gusto and is willing to pick up the pieces when things have gone off the rails.”
“She is willing to do whatever is needed and be wherever she is needed. That kind of volunteer spirit and commitment is rare.”
Finding it hard to put into words, Ellery volunteers because she can. She find the time she spends volunteering for the greater good of the community so rewarding.
“With MBM I know that the volunteer work is all directly useful and needed for the clients we support,” she stated. “As a 100% volunteer run organization we could not do any of it without the people who give their time, and every hour put in to volunteering is a contribution directly effecting the lives of our clients and supports the village we all strive to be a part of.”
As for the future, Ellery plans to be a volunteer lifer with MBM, noting “I plan to always be involved with MBM. It is a cause close to my heart and I love all of my fellow volunteers!”
We love you too Ellery! And we will keep our fingers tightly grasped around her – in a loving way of course.
New mom finds ways to give back as a Made by Momma volunteer
Hearing rave reviews from her clients spurred volunteer newbie Karen Monk to check out volunteering with Made by Momma. Having worked in the non-profit sector for many years, she had looked into resources to refer her clients to and came upon Made by Momma. She was excited to find out about MBM and all the services that support people in the community. Since then, she’s referred several clients and had many report back that MBM had gone above and beyond for them and how delicious the meals are.
Once Karen started maternity leave, she was looking for an opportunity to volunteer – something that was flexible and offered some variety so she could coordinate with her busy schedule.
She attended a volunteer information session and learned how flexible volunteering with Made by Momma can be. She noted, “Many places I have volunteered with in the past want you to commit to certain shifts per month or a minimum time period. However, with Made by Momma you can volunteer as little or as much as you want and it can work with any schedule.”
Karen jumped into helping with weekly hamper deliveries, dropping off wholesome meals or baby essentials to families across the city. Since it only involves an hour or two of time per week, she is able to bring her son along.
Her family also had fun planning and shopping for a local family through our Adopt-A-Momma program last Christmas. Her extended family contributed as well and it brought them a lot of joy coming up with fun gifts for the family to experience together. To Karen, what sets Made by Momma’s Adopt-A-Family program apart is that adopters can directly deliver to the adopted family.
“Seeing the family we helped directly and how happy/appreciate they were really made our holidays special,” she said.”
Now that Karen has dabbled in a few different volunteer activities, she plans to continue as it is rewarding for her to make a delivery to a family. Having a young family herself, she feels a special connection with many of MBM’s families and can see how important the support can be in those first years of childhood.
“The fact that Made by Momma is a volunteer-run organization is really astounding and it amazes me at all the things they are able to accomplish. I feel grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of it!” And MBM is truly lucky that Karen chooses to share her giving nature and be part of our community.
‘Cookie Lady’ Marlene Whyte finds balance
Like many volunteers, self-professed cookie lady Marlene Whyte found her way to Made by Momma via a friend’s invitation to participate in a cooking evening a few years ago. She immediately recognized how wonderful Made by Momma is and appreciated its grassroots appeal. At the earliest opportunity, she immediately invited a group of neighbours to share in a volunteer cook one evening.
These fun cooking evenings were all it took to plant the seed. Marlene started making dozens of cookies using her mom’s recipe at home and delivering them to the Resource Centre every week. She calls it a little thing but we don’t agree. Imagine the delight of a family going through a rough or challenging time and how they must feel. How thrilled they must be to open their MBM care package and find those tasty oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!
Volunteering to Marlene is part of a balanced life and she believes that each of us should find a way to give back to our communities. To her, “The act of volunteering is an enriching experience and I gain as much as I give!”
Now that Marlene is an empty nester, she loves the flexibility that volunteering with Made by Momma offers and finds it a good fit for balance in her life. She says that she continues to volunteer with MBM as it provides her with an avenue to support others who can benefit from home-cooked, wholesome and nourishing food.
In her own words, “It’s fun to imagine who it is, children or adults, that are enjoying the comfort food of a basic oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and I hope it makes their days brighter.”
We agree! We can’t wait to taste her next batch of signature cookies. Thanks Marlene for those delicious treats.