There are many reasons people chose to volunteer. Some hope to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate, others get involved to develop new skills, while others are looking for a sense of purpose and belonging. When we volunteer, we see real change as a direct result of our efforts. Helping others, and growing the community around us, is often the most important benefit of community service.
Veronica Love-Alexander, Regional Vice President for Ontario and Atlantic Canada at MERIX Financial, exemplifies the fundamental values of commitment, inclusiveness, engagement and solidarity. We sat down with her to talk about her inspiring community outreach.
In what ways do you contribute and give back to your community?
Every month, I donate to two women’s shelters, Yellow Brick House and Interval House, as well as to Bloorview Rehabilitation Hospital. In September, I gather donations for Yellow Brick House with student backpack and lunch donations, and at Christmas with new undergarments for women. For the past three years, I have organized a MERIX High Tea at Langdon Hall for women in the industry, and the admission fee is a new undergarment, pajamas or socks, which get donated to Yellow Brick House. Cash donations have also been provided at this event. For the past four years, I have been participated on an event planning committee for Make-A-Wish’s Rope for Hope in Toronto. I have personally rappelled down Toronto’s 30-storey City Hall building five times, raising over $21,000 to date, and I look forward to raising even more. I also lead a team of women called Women Wish Granters, and together we have raised over $135,000 for the charity. Each wish granted is approximately $10,000 and we have granted over 13 wishes so far!
What is your biggest reason for volunteering?
I began my career in the charitable sector. I went to school for public relations and took on internships with both the Lung Association and the Cancer Society. From there, I worked for many charities including Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation and the Toronto Maple Leafs Foundation. By working for so many non-profit organizations, I became passionate about the ones with very little funding or staff to help with their fundraising initiatives. I try to give back to the charities that need it most and work to ensure donations are giving directly to the recipients without large administrative overhead.
What is the most rewarding aspect of volunteering?
Inspiring others to join in and give back, too. I have been able to recruit other passionate people and it’s amazing what small groups of giving individuals can do. I have met cancer patients who received support, women and children who went through shelters, and children who had wishes granted. After you meet people who have faced some of the hardest obstacles imaginable, it inspires you to give in any way you can while you are still able.
What advice would you give to people who say they don’t have time to volunteer?
There is a feeling you get when you accomplish a race, rappel off a building or simply gather a few backpacks for children. You grow as a person when you give. If time is an issue for people to be physically present, they can lend support on social media for causes or provide even a small donation to those who can carve out the time. I am looking for more people to join my rappel team in June for Make-A-Wish 2019 and welcome all donations! My goal is to top the amount raised in 2018. It never hurts to ask—I’m always pleasantly surprised by how giving people are.
This article first appeared in 2019, Issue 1 of Perspectives magazine, first published in February 2019 by Mortgage Professionals Canada.