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Volunteer Week 2024

National Volunteer Week highlights the importance of the volunteers in York Region as well as the contributions they make when we need support more than ever. During National Volunteer Week 2024, we come together to recognize and celebrate the importance of each and every volunteer’s impact.

360ºkids provides shelter and support services to more than 3500 youth each year from all nine municipalities of York Region. The name 360ºkids refers to the comprehensive approach that the organization takes to assisting at-risk youth and surrounding them with care. In their services 360ºkids recognizes that these kids need a wide range of supports to help them rebuild their lives.

You too can give back to people who need support and encouragement. For ways you can respond to National Volunteer Week, go to

Dan Kenigsberg exemplifies the spirit of a volunteer and a 360°kids ambassador. In his role as a Board Director over the past 4 years, he has leveraged his expertise to support our working committees, mobilized networks for fundraising efforts and consistently contributed to all of our campaigns. A dedicated participant of the 360°Experience, with over 5 past participations, Dan has demonstrated that he is willing to walk in the shoes of youth experiencing homelessness and humbly learn from the experience. With a strong background in Corporate Accounting as a CPA and wholehearted support for our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) journey, he brings valued knowledge and essential qualities of openness and kindness that are vital for garnering support for initiatives and ideas at the board level.

The Alzheimer Society of York Region (AS York) has been a leader in actively supporting individuals and families living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias since 1985, providing programs and services for people diagnosed with the disease and their care partners. Due to COVID-19, face-to-face meetings have been cancelled, but AS York is offering virtual support groups, education series, including First Steps and Care Essentials for caregivers, and DAY programs. In addition, social workers are available to provide information, support and resources to York Region residents impacted by dementia. Alzheimer Society of York Region

Not just for sharing his talent, but for recognizing the impact music has on people living with dementia. Listening to music can be a powerful activity for those with dementia. Music has the potential to increase physical and social activity; reignite older memories; and improve sleep, mood, cognition, communication, and overall quality of life. Bryan Wu tries to play the kind of music that evokes positive feelings in clients. He has considerable talent, and his music inspires clients to tap their toes, hum or sing along, even get up and dance with staff. It’s not common to find high school volunteers who want to get involved in a program for clients with Alzheimer’s. It is not a disease that is perceived to directly impact Bryan or his classmates. But Bryan cares for those in the DAY program, volunteering one Saturday a month for approx. the past 18 months.

Bryan has also donated proceeds of his tutoring work to support clients in the DAY program.


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel-York provides mentoring programs and free activities to children and youth throughout York and Peel Regions. These positive mentoring programs help children and youth build the confidence to achieve more, assisting them in reaching their full potential and grow into adults who contribute positively to society.

To get into the spirit of National Volunteer week, make the decision to get involved. To support the good works of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel York, go to

Aura Aberback is a caring, committed and devoted Big Sister to Sienna.  Over the past 5 years Aura and Sienna have developed a strong bond and they are just the perfect match! Sienna’s mother often shares how important of a role Aura has played in Sienna’s life and how every child should have a mentor like Aura.  Aura is patient, supportive and she loves spending time with Sienna being active. Together they enjoy their time doing outdoor activities both winter and summer such as swimming, snowboarding/skiing and taking walks, but also enjoy time spent playing board games, baking and participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters planned activities.  Aura has seen Sienna grow confident and thoughtful and her imagination now soars with endless possibilities. Big Brothers Big Sisters was thrilled to present Aura and Sienna the Match of the Year for York Region award for 2023/2024 to recognize their commitment to their friendship.

In addition to Aura’s role volunteering as a Big Sister to Sienna, she is also an active volunteer in many other ways with Big Brothers Big Sisters.  She is a member of the Gala Committee, a Bingo volunteer and events volunteer helping to raise needed funds for our agency. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel York is so thankful to have Aura as a valued volunteer who always goes above and beyond and has been a wonderful role model and friend to Sienna.


Since 1982, Blue Door has been an integral part of the community providing emergency housing for the homeless population of York Region. As the region has grown, so have the services of this organization. Initiated as a shelter for single men, Blue Door has expanded to include emergency housing programs for families and youth.

You too can make a change in this world. To volunteer at Blue Door Shelters, go to and pay it forward starting today.

Matthew Chung is an exceptional volunteer. He is so dedicated to serving people experiencing homelessness and is available every time we need him. Matthew never misses a shift, he is eager to do anything that needs to be done and is so very kind to the people we support. Not only does he help with serving/preparing meals, welcoming people into the seasonal emergency housing program, and cleaning the facility, he takes the time to get to know each person and spends time talking to them as if they were lifelong friends! Matthew is also loved by our staff, and other volunteers. He also participates in our fundraisers, including Blue Door’s Coldest Night of the Year, with such dedication.

CAYR Community Connections was originally founded as the AIDS Committee of York Region in 1993. Their mission and vision is to create safe, confidential, and inclusive spaces and services in York Region where people can access dignified support and meaningfully engage in self-determined pathways to well-being.

Celebrate National Volunteer Week by getting engaged with your community. To find out more about CAYR Community Connections go to

Peter Bocskor is a hard worker, is loyal and very reliable. He does the job well and gets along with patrons and staff at the bingo hall…. Very friendly.

A wonderful part of the CAYR team!

CMHA York Region and South Simcoe is an award-winning branch of the national nonprofit, Canadian Mental Health Association. As the nationwide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness and addiction.

You too can make a difference by getting involved. Support the Canadian Mental Health Association York Region and South Simcoe by going to CMHA York Region & South Simcoe

Kent Knobbs is an exemplary volunteer whose dedication and commitment to the Canadian Mental Health Association York Region South Simcoe for the past two decades have been nothing short of remarkable. As a steadfast supporter of CMHA’s local Support for Depression program, Kent has consistently demonstrated compassion, empathy, and tireless effort in assisting individuals in our community to improve their mental wellness. His unwavering presence and invaluable contributions have significantly impacted the lives of countless individuals experiencing depression, offering them solace and support when they needed it most. Kent’s selflessness, reliability, and genuine passion for helping others make him an outstanding candidate for volunteer recognition as he embodies the true spirit of volunteerism and community service.


Since 1992, Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women has been an agent for change in the community. They believe strong women equal a strong community and so they empower and build collective capacity investing in seniors, newcomers and refugee women and girls. Whether it is finding a safe, affordable place to live, completing or furthering formal education, gaining meaningful employment, the newcomer and refugee women who come to the Centre make it happen in their own lives, on their own terms.

You too can make a difference by getting involved. Support Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women by going to ehcw – Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women

Grace Esposito, a long-term volunteer of EHCW has dedicated her volunteer hours to ensure seniors living in Vaughan remain healthy and active. She has been an active volunteer at the Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women (EHCW) since 2011. Grace leads weekly Line Dancing Classes for seniors, volunteers at monthly congregate dining for seniors, and volunteers at EHCW’s Senior Craft Class, where she displays her talents in creating crochet items and sharing her skills with seniors. She has demonstrated outstanding leadership and dedication. Grace uses her skills and talents to keep seniors engaged daily through the programs offered by EHCW. EHCW is grateful to have a dedicated volunteer like Grace because her role as a volunteer fosters a culture of inclusivity. Grace is an inspiration to others and highlights the importance of lifelong engagement and active participation in community initiatives.


Evergreen provides community based supportive programs to individuals and their families in Markham, Stouffville, and Thornhill, who are living with life-threatening illness or coping with the death of a loved one. Services are provided free of charge and are specifically designed to meet the needs of children, teens, and adults.

At difficult times we should not be alone. If you could be there for someone, go to and volunteer.

Lynn Dawson Parker is wonderful! As one of Evergreen’s Fundraising volunteers, she has coordinated and supported Evergreen Hospice’s fundraising events for more than 12 years. She uses her design expertise to create beautiful and welcoming spaces for the event guests to enjoy. She is always looking for new connections within our communities to help gather unique and lovely items for prizes and auctions. Her dedication and commitment to Evergreen has helped us raise the needed funds to allow us to continue to serve our clients and communities. She is passionate about her work with us, and cares deeply about the work Evergreen does for those living in our communities with a life-threatening illness, their caregivers, and for those who are grieving. We are so grateful for her and thank you to 105.9 The Region for creating a space for us to recognize Lynn.

High Notes Avante uses artistic expression to inspire, give hope and connect those touched by mental illness through artistic expression. Their image-raising concerts & events connect the community. Their online and in-person programs use the power of the arts to help those affected move forward on higher notes.

You too can make a change in this world. To volunteer at High Notes Avante, go to High Notes Avante and be that change.


Colette Tanel was originally a consumer who came to our events with her daughter and friends. She has also been part of our choir and taken guitar lessons with us. 

She is a very sweet and funny lady who has given back to us tremendously.

Hill House Hospice is a special place that is filled with love. Hill House was the first residential hospice in York Region and the second residential hospice to be built in the province of Ontario. Since its founding in 1998, the goal has been to lead by example, serving as a model for exemplary residential care in York Region and across Canada.

Showcase your talents and give back. To find out more about Hill House Hospice and how you can volunteer, go to Hill House Hospice

We’re deeply thankful for Cathy Penman‘s 16 years of dedicated service at Hill House Hospice. Cathy shows her compassion, selflessness, hospitality, and genuine care for everyone she serves. She loves to provide reception help, administrative support, and is intuitive in hosting families in our home, while providing bereavement support with empathy and understanding. Whether it’s assisting with daily tasks, lending a helping hand wherever needed, or simply being a source of strength and encouragement for staff, families, and residents alike, Cathy fosters a sense of community and love within our hospice family.


Hospice Vaughan offers support to individuals and their families dealing with life-limiting illness with compassionate and caring staff and volunteers. They have a 12-bed Hospice residence that provides a final peaceful space for individuals and families who require end of life support and they also offer support programs for the community.

You can enrich the lives of others. If you would like to support people who are in need, go to Hospice Vaughan

Nancy’s Missouri’s dedication to volunteerism is truly exceptional and deserving of recognition. Her tireless commitment to our organization extends far beyond what is expected, as she consistently goes above and beyond to support staff, families, clients and residents alike. Nancy gives of her time every week to make sure that those who enter the building are welcomed with warmth. On numerous occasions, she stays after her shift has ended to fill an empty shift. Not content with just fulfilling her duties, she also takes on the responsibility of training new volunteers and graciously lends her support with administrative tasks, easing the workload of our staff members. In every aspect of her volunteer work, Nancy’s dedication shines through and undoubtedly deserves recognition as a volunteer whose contributions go above and beyond, enriching the lives of all those she touches.

Each and every year, thousands of Canadians are killed or injured in impaired driving crashes. Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is a terrible crime that touches all our lives. It is an irresponsible, dangerous and intolerable act. Mothers Against Drunk Driving strives to offer support services to victims/survivors, heighten awareness about the dangers of alcohol and/or drug-impaired driving, and to save lives and prevent injuries on our roads.

Stopping impaired driving requires that we all get involved. For more information on how you can make a difference, go to MADD York Region

Marney Beck Robinson became a volunteer with MADD York Region when the chapter was about to fold and she did an article (being a reporter at the time) on the chapter and its need in the community of York Region. Since then, Marney has become an advocate and huge support to the MADD York Region chapter. Marney attends monthly meetings with enthusiasm, knowledge and unwavering determination to spread the message to not drive impaired. Marney continuously brings new and exciting ideas for us to gain opportunities to achieve our mission, “to stop impaired driving and to support victims of this violent crime.”

Over the past year Marney continues to find unique ways to put interesting posts on our multimedia and strives to keep our chapter in the forefront of people’s minds so they hopefully will think twice before getting behind the wheel impaired.

Marney attends our events in the community and keeps us on the map in each separate community in York Region. Marney always has a welcoming smile, even though she is sharing such a daunting message.

MADD York Region was saved 12 years ago through Marney’s article and continues to thrive today as a result of Marney’s dedication and commitment to our cause.

Assisting the community since 1984, The Markham Food Bank aims to create a welcoming environment of fairness and equality for everyone that comes their way. With the help of volunteers and donations, the Markham Food Bank offers food supplies and other basic necessities to community members. They provide 7 to 10 days’ worth of nutritious food, that includes fresh fruits and vegetables as well as packaged food and hygiene products.

Feed your soul by feeding others. To volunteer at the Markham Food Bank, go to Markham Food Bank and reduce food insecurity.

Often times charities and non-profit organizations will say that they cannot run without the support of their volunteers. This is true for the Markham Food Bank, as we are 100% volunteer run, but Cathy Allison is the backbone of our organization. Without her continued dedication and hard work, we would not be able to serve families experiencing food insecurity in Markham. 

Cathy began volunteering with the Markham Food Bank years ago. If you have a question about the Markham Food Bank, Cathy will absolutely be able to answer your question. During her time here, she has seen the number of families accessing our services grow astronomically. Since she is responsible for inventory management and the purchasing of new food, this means her workload has also grown astronomically, but she carries on with a smile.  Our services have changed for the better because of her hard work. She has also been the person responsible for ensuring families have access to fresh produce, something which isn’t common at many food banks. Cathy strongly advocates for individuals and families in need. When COVID-19 first hit Markham in March 2020, it was because of her brainstorming and handwork that we were able to adapt our services to stay open while also ensuring volunteers and clients were able to stay safe. If you’re here during our service hours, you will often see her busy with supporting volunteers but also interacting with the many clients she has been able to build a strong rapport with.

For over 50 years, the mission of Participation House, Markham is to be a leader in enhancing the quality of life of individuals with disabilities through a continuum of services designed to reflect individualized approaches, community involvement and a respect for human dignity.

Abilities in all forms should be celebrated. If you want to make an impact, go to Get involved.

Nataliya Dmitrenko has a heart of gold and loves the residents dearly. Nataliya used to be an employee of Participation House and then when she moved into retirement, still continued to be a part of the PHM family by working with various residents on a one-to-one basis. Nataliya not only brings forth laughter and smiles from the residents, but her caring, compassionate, empathetic nature and heart draws the residents and even staff to her. We need more people in the world like Nataliya who genuinely loves and cares dearly for the residents we serve.

Pflag is York Region’s LGBTQ2IA+ support, resource and education network – bringing together all members of the community. They are a volunteer-led local registered charity servicing one of the fastest growing and multicultural regions nationwide. They are there to support frightened adolescents, confused, fearful and even angry parents, caregivers, and family members who have questions or concerns about sexual orientation or gender identity.

Charitable work is inclusive. To learn more about how you can support people of the LGBTQ2IA+ community, go to Pflag York Region – Home

Damian Mellin first joined PFLAG York Region three years ago. Our organization was continuing to navigate online service delivery through the COVID-19 Pandemic and create space virtually for parents, caregivers, and the LGBTQ2IA+ community to connect and support one another in our peer-to-peer support spaces. Damian later becoming our vice-president and led the push to create unique unperson programming in early 2022. He got our team, including me, thinking differently and reconnected us to our need and our community’s need to connect in-person once again.

This innovative thinking led to the evolution of our programming with our Fabulous Adventures tentpole events and PFLAG York Region Social nights at Aurora Public Library. Fabulous Adventures got our community out and engaged in ways that were different for us, and maybe even different for them. We took our community out on a hike in Newmarket and engaged in activities that connected them with others who came from around the region. We also hosted a Fabulous Adventure paint class connecting our community with their inner artist.

At PFLAG York Region Socials, Damian developed programming which encourages connection and support in a space filled with activities which rotate every month. From games nights, arts and crafts, film screenings and even trivia nights, Damian brought PFLAG York Region out of the pandemic and was a huge part in encouraging in-person connection once again. He continues to innovate and develop this programming every month in collaboration with our Leadership team. Since its inception, our social nights have averaged 30 attendees at Aurora Public Library every month with new families and community members joining us each month. We couldn’t have done it without him. His contribution to the redevelopment of and return to in-person programming has been invaluable. I know our community feels the same way.

The Richmond Hill Community Food Bank is a non-profit agency, founded to provide temporary emergency food assistance to those in need. They are able to operate through the generous support of the people of Richmond Hill, Thornhill and Maple, corporate supporters, food drives by churches and schools, and a staff of amazing volunteers. It is overseen by a volunteer board of directors and has one paid, part-time manager, Lee Reynolds.

It does not take much to change someone’s day. If you would like to make moments matter, go to Richmond Hill Community Food Bank and volunteer today.

Each week Demir Esmer devotes many hours when the food bank is closed (between 3 and 6) to packing grocery bags for clients needing emergency food aid. Often, he volunteers more hours in the week when our food bank is open and busy, preparing bags or helping other volunteers who hand out the food. He also is an active “bingo volunteer” for our food bank, volunteering evenings to cover charity shifts at the Bingo World in Richmond Hill, helping our food bank earn a percentage of the bingo hall proceeds (which helps us purchase badly needed food). He often helps at community events weekdays and on weekends to represent the food bank.

He is always cheerful, dedicated, dependable, thoughtful and caring. He believes in the cause of helping those in our community who need emergency food aid and devotes countless hours to helping keep our food bank doors open and welcoming. We have up to 75 volunteers, but he is the most recognized, the most teased (in good humor), and quite possibly devotes the most number of hours each week!

Rising Angels educates the public about commercial sexual exploitation and provides support to impacted women. Based in the Greater Toronto Area, they extend their reach across Ontario and raise awareness nationwide. They offer assistance to women affected by exploitation by providing ongoing support such as mentoring, coaching and trauma-informed counseling. Their comprehensive approach addresses the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of survivors, empowering them towards healing and recovery.

We are capable and have ways we can give. If you would like to find out how you can reduce the impacts of sex trafficking, go to Rising Angels

Ever since Rising Angels was formed in 2015, we have been able to rely on Eleanor Copping to perform all the bookkeeping duties needed for the charity. Although it is a behind-the-scenes role, we absolutely would not be able to function without her help.

Why does she give so many hours every week for so many years? In her words: “I met Katarina, the Founder and Executive Director of Rising Angels many years ago and her story moved me beyond tears as it still does every time I hear it. When Kat, Sheila & Todd started Rising Angels in 2016, they approached me to look after their bookkeeping which I happily have been doing since. I believe in their mission to “provide assistance to women who have been affected by commercial sexual exploitation, whether involuntarily, known as human trafficking or independently due to lack of choice.” I also stand behind the education and training they provide to professionals and the public about sexual exploitation. If I lived closer, I would gladly serve at their fundraisers wherever needed.”

Having a passionate volunteer who feels strongly about the organization’s mission is such a blessing!

Shine Through the Rain does many things but all in the service of one goal. That goal is to help those who are affected by life threatening illnesses. Whether it’s through services or funds, they provide guidance, support, and financial aid to those in need. Regardless of age, when things seem gloomy and you’re being rained on, they are there to help you shine through it.

To help families and individuals when they are in need, go to and make moments matter.

Why should they be recognized? Our volunteers (Cathie, Chris, Doug, Hannah, Irene, Jim, Jo-Ann, Joann, Laura, Lee, Marcia, Melonie, PJ, Samantha, Sarina, Traig, Zainab) are all amazing! We have a skeletal staff and cannot complete our mission without our loyal and engaged volunteers. They raise funds at bingo when we are busy at the office, spread the word about how we help vulnerable families facing financial ruin when diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, help with office work when we are overwhelmed with the volume of work, and govern our charity. The collective efforts of our volunteers mean families avoid eviction, utility disconnections, hunger, and inability to afford medical parking and transportation.

The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society provides care, comfort and compassion to animals in need. It values all animals and advocates to treat them with respect and kindness. The Society strives to keep pets and families together and does so through a variety of community support services, such as sheltering and adoptions, feral cat management programs, animal transfers, food distribution, humane education, animal advocacy, and spay/neuter services. Four legged community members need support too. If you would like to be part of a solution, go to Ontario SPCA and Humane Society and help a furry friend.

Rijuta Gohil has been a dedicated volunteer since June 2023, and just this school year has already delivered almost 10 presentations and reached over 200 students. She has always been very responsive, happy to present to students, and is easy to communicate with. Through the presentation videos, slides, games and activities, Rijuta teaches students about the importance of caring, respecting and showing compassion to all animals in our community. Teachers have left positive feedback about Rijuta after presentations and stated how much fun their students had throughout the session!


Unionville Home Society has been providing services to seniors for over 50 years. The organization was founded by a group of very dedicated volunteers in 1967 who sought to improve the services available to seniors in Unionville and to build a long-term care home. It remains a non-profit organization supported by a volunteer Board of Directors, many of whom work and live nearby.

Looking to show respect to your elders? Be a volunteer. Go to to give back to those who need support.

Emer Barnes-Chow says: “I have been volunteering since the spring of 2017. Volunteering has a special place in my life. I suffer from bipolar disorder which has been prominent for most of my life, making working full time difficult. I receive ongoing support from my family, and they suggested I get a volunteer position as they knew that it would be good for me to interact with people. I have a background in Customer Service, so I started looking to find a good role. 

I chose Unionville Home Society (UHS) because of my daughter. There was a fashion show at Unionville Community Centre for Seniors (UCCS), and she was one of the volunteers. I accompanied her to USSC and then later to Union Villa for one of her shifts. When I went in with her, I was struck by the feeling that this is a good, calming place and I could definitely see myself volunteering here. 

I applied and started in Customer Service. I liked getting to meet new people, feeling connected with others, and just being around people who care about the community. I wanted to give back in a small way, and I could do it with the skills I have. I started volunteering at UCCS last September. The biggest difference between Customer Service and UCCS is that you get to interact with clients longer, both as a group and individually. There is always a buzz and a happiness around the place that lifts my mood. Everyone knows everyone. 

I remember I was nervous the first time going down the stairs to the program, but they were so warm and welcoming. I will never forget their kindness from that first moment of introduction. 

My main duty as UCCS is assisting in any way I can. I help with regular Dessert Cafes and special events, helping setup and cleanup, and socializing with the members. 

What I love about volunteering is that I am helping people. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to let people down, so I like having that accountability and structure. Being a part of the community, and feeling like I am able to give back, is a healing experience. The work is helping me on my journey, and I am also gaining experience and confidence so I can be in a good position to perhaps return to work one day. 

Unionville Home Society has so many volunteer opportunities and I would encourage prospective volunteers to contact Volunteer Services so they can experience the joy that I feel each time I support a resident, their family, or a senior’s program. I was nervous at first, but the staff made me feel so welcome. Knowing that I am making a difference for others has also made a difference for me.”

Yellow Brick House provides life-saving services and prevention programs to meet the diverse needs of individuals, families, and communities impacted by violence. Yellow Brick House is committed to challenging and eradicating the beliefs, values, systems and structures which support and perpetuate sexism and violence against women.

Volunteering can take many forms and is needed at all levels. Get into the spirit of National Volunteer Week. Go to to find out what you can do.

Heather Pacione should be recognized as one of our volunteers due to her active support of our EmpowerHER campaign. She allowed us to feature her salon videos on our social media platforms and has a personal connection to the cause, having lost her sister to domestic violence over 18 years ago. Additionally, in May 2023, Heather bravely shared her survivor story in a video, showcasing her dedication and commitment to raising awareness about domestic violence.