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Volunteer Central’s Volunteer of the Month: Mckenna Causey

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Written by Ryan Charles Parker / Photo courtesy of Mckenna Causey

This is a story about dedication. A long chronicle of helping for the sake of others. A tale of self-sacrifice. An unfinished history of giving without any care of material reward or personal recognition.

For Mckenna, charitable work began early in her life. “The first notable time I began volunteering was when I was 8. I asked my friends for money instead of presents for my 9th birthday to buy sleeping bags and food vouchers for the homeless. That year we had a really cold winter and my little brain couldn’t fathom that there were people who actually had to sleep outside in the cold and didn’t have a warm house to go home to.”

But her contribution to the less fortunate didn’t end there. 3 years ago, RBC introduced an initiative for Canada’s 150th birthday wherein they provided $150 to people with an eye to using it for charity, in whatever method they chose. Mckenna was one of the recipients. And she made that money count. As Gloria Dersken, Executive Director for Central Alberta Victim & Witness Support and Mckenna’s nominator told me, “She challenged others in the community to do-nate $150 and due to her efforts raised over $12,000 which was donated to the Red Deer Health Foundation to purchase a much needed Billi Soft LED Photother-apy set for NICU.”

Raising that much money from just $150 takes a sustained effort and a good deal of dedication and goodwill. But that is just the type of person Mckenna is: always looking for a way to help.

Mckenna has been a volunteer with Gloria at Alberta Victim & Witness Support since February of 2018 and explains her role in the organization, “The main thing I do as an advocate is go out to call outs. The majority are (next of kin) notifications or suicides, and occasionally car accidents. I also go into the office and call victims of crime and tragedy…to see how they are doing. While I’m in the office I make care packages that we give out to victims with information on future supports, symptoms of grieving, the role of the medical examiner, etc. This sup-port is more being there for someone to talk to and making sure they aren’t alone during a difficult time, compared to raising money for a cause.”

This is not easy work. Needless to say, much of it is grim. It takes a big heart to be able to do such labour and not be negatively affected by it during day-to-day life. But Mckenna walks this tightrope with ease. As Gloria said, “…she has pursued this volunteer role with relentless perse-verance. She responds to crisis calls, attends training, meetings, and vari-ous events on behalf of VSU, all done with her same cheerful attitude.”

With that much on her plate, she informed me of an initiative she is now taking part of. ” Recently, I’ve been raising money to create care packages for children in the Oncology Unit at the Alberta Children’s Hos-pital. Two of my friends and I made it possible for people to “sponsor a box”. It was $50 to sponsor a box, and you could pick the age group you’d like the box to go to. We have since raised enough for 50 boxes/packages filled with things from books to puzzles to board games to toothbrushes to blankets and socks. We also had many wonderful people make hand-made items to donate to the boxes and some classrooms have decorated the boxes!” The only task that remains for this project is to fill the pack-ages with the goods that have been so graciously donated.

Oh, and she is attending college and works part-time.

Needless to say, Mckenna is overwhelmingly deserving of the award of Volunteer of the Month from Volunteer Central.

Keep up the good work. The world is a better place for having you in it.

 

If you know a volunteer, nominate them for Volunteer Central’s Volunteer of the Month here: https://bit.ly/30E38qd

Volunteer Central strives to build a strong, connected and engaged community through volunteerism.

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So many losses to cope with

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So many losses to cope with

Shaylyn is only 26. She experienced miscarriages and lost multiple friends, relatives, and pets starting in 2012.  The losses continued and just kept on building with 8 souls lost in 2019 alone. She was working through it her way but in the back of her mind she knew some help may allow her to move towards a better quality of life.  She put her thoughts out there asking the universe for some assistance when she saw a bus ad “Got Grief?” and the phone number to register for the RDPCN Grief program.  She immediately called to register for the program and is very glad that she did.

One of the valuable lessons that she learned was not to feel any anger or resentment to the person who passed. She could be mad at the situation they left her in but not mad at the person. She found comfort in the class exercise of writing a letter to the person lost and then writing a response from them. It felt like she was receiving comfort and support, and this helped her shift to the positive. She also realized she is a caregiver, but she needs to take some time and care for herself and give herself some time to work through all of this. She gained knowledge on how to do this.

Overall the Journeying through Grief program helped her to get on a more positive path. She realized how resilient she is and how she can move forward with her life. She gained self-confidence and can now walk away from non-constructive conversations. She learned it is okay to ask for help and okay to be vulnerable. The program gave her space to express what she was feeling and give in to her emotions. Often people don’t know how to be around you during your time of loss but having experience communicating with others in similar situations in the program gave me the practice and confidence that I needed to move forward. Shaylyn says, “I would highly recommend Journeying through Grief to anyone with loss in their life.

Self-care series: Lift your mood

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Alberta

A Small, Important Opening

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A Small, Important Opening

Chances are pretty good that all major-league sports and some of the lower-profile ones will manage to complete partial 2020 seasons despite growing signs that COVID-19 will not give up without a long and continuing fight for dominance over sports and all else in today’s world.

Experts and observers of all athletic and public disciplines agree, however, that nothing is certain: baseball players are opting to stay home; basketball players express discontent and confusion every day; the NHL waffles over naming so-called hub cities for a wacky playoff proposal that continues to raise more questions than answers.

In the midst of all this uncertainty comes one simple burst of optimism: the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame will welcome the public on Thursday, 98 days after the rampaging coronavirus pandemic forced closure of the building on the edge of Red Deer on March 16. It is fair to concede that reopening a small-city building warrants little public interest when compared with the billions involved in professional sports, but it’s also reasonable to accept that every step of progress in this deadly world-wide struggle is worth recording.

Although none of the $302,000 committed to the Hall in the current provincial budget has been received – a $75,000 commitment has been made but no cash has appeared and a review is already promised for later this year – executive director Tracey Kinsella said some pleasant things have been achieved during the lockdown.

“We have been extremely busy giving our Hall of Fame an update,” she smiled. “Our goal is to improve the entire experience for our visitors from the moment they walk in the door.”

Cleanliness was, and is, essential in the reopening. Sanitizers, directional signs and plenty of obvious messaging are part of the opening, of course. There is no plan for an opening ceremony, Kinsells said. “We would like to do something of a celebration, maybe later in July.”

At one time, fingers were crossed that induction of the 14 members selected several months ago but “we had to decide (last week) that there will be no induction banquet in 2020. We’ve had to tell all the inductees that we’re having to wait until next year.”

The list includes four athletes: skier Deirdra Dionne, hockey player Chris Phillips, chuck-wagon racer Kelly Sutherland and snowboard-cross star Michael Robertson. Five builders – Jan Ullmark, figure skating; Terry Morris, curling; Ken Babey, hockey; Derek Douglas, soccer – were selected along with five Hall of Fame Award winners Nancy Southern and Ian Allison (equestrian broadcasters, Bell Memorial Award), John Currie (Western Canada Summer Games 1983, Achievement Award); Stan Wakelyn (1922 Canadian soccer champions 1922, Pioneer Award); Dennis Kadatz (coach of Edmonton Huskies national junior football champions 1962-64).

Those awards show clearly how broad is the effect of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. Every winner spent years working and practicing toward the world’s most elusive goal: perfection. There is no suggestion that it was reached, just as there can be no hint that they have inspired thousands to follow them.

Discussing the government’s failure to live up to its contracted financial commitment, Kinsella was not especially critical: “We’re sad, disappointed, maybe a little alarmed.” During a lengthy discussion, she finally confirmed receipt of the government’s letter providing the limited amount and mentioned “I’ve asked for meetings, have not had a direct, face-to-face conversation with anyone in the area of culture.”

My unsolicited opinion: this is unreasonable. As the Hall opens its doors, perhaps a government department should also open up.

Learn more about the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

Our sports history has value

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july, 2020

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