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Volunteer of the Month: Ralph Seland


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Written by Ryan Charles Parker // Photo courtesy of Ralph Seland


It takes the best we have to see us through the worst it gets. We need support even in ideal times, so when someone goes through tragedy, it is incalculably more essential that we have someone to lean on. And there are some experiences that no one should have to go through. But they do. We all hope for a better tomorrow, but for now, we deal with today.

Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) deals in such matters every day. They offer a variety of services to anyone affected by sexual violence including counselling, education, support in going through the court system and a 24-hour Help Line.

Ralph Seland has been volunteering his time to that Help Line for 25 years. When he began, the Help Line was more general, dealing with differing crises:

“When I began 25 years ago, we were really a crisis center and were trained to take care of potential suicides, slashings, family violence, and yes, sexual assault.”

Such subject matter could wear on a person. But Ralph was trained to not get emotionally involved:

“The training was excellent. We listened to stories of real people tell of their terrible experiences and were taught, not only how to handle these calls, but how to take care of ourselves emotionally.”

Even following that advice, there were times at which he took a call that shook him up so much that he questioned his ability to continue. Yet, he soldiers on. Ralph’s long-term commitment has made him an extremely valuable asset for CASASC. As Volunteer Interim Team Lead, and Ralph’s nominator, Erin Willmer told me:

“Ralph brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to our organization. Since he has been a volunteer for about 25 years, Ralph has really heard it all and has been able to support every individual that accesses our services. Furthermore, his dedication to our Help Line has made him one of the most devoted volunteer members. He is often the example we use when training new volunteers.”

Furthermore, Ralph does more than is asked of him. He often takes more shifts than he has to, and will often volunteer to fill in shifts when the organization is having trouble finding people to take them.

Even this does not exhaust his contributions. He is helpful to both callers and fellow volunteers because of his tremendous dedication and experience. As Erin told me:

“Our work can sometimes be very overwhelming and intense, but Ralph is always there to help not only callers, but volunteers making him an excellent teammate to our volunteers.”

For an organization that relies on volunteers to keep its Help Line functioning, Ralph is instrumental in its operation. Without volunteers, it wouldn’t exist.

“I cannot express how vital volunteers are to our organization,” Erin explained. “Our Help Line is one of the only services in Alberta that operates 24-hours a day. We are only able to do that because of our volunteers. Since we are a not-for-profit organization, it is because of volunteers that we are able to continually offer this community based service to not only Central Alberta, but the entire province.”

It is not just that Ralph helps. He helps more than he has to. And he helps other people learn to follow in his footsteps, growing his contribution exponentially. It is for these reasons that he has been named Volunteer of the Month.

You are very deserving, Ralph.

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

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$10 ticket for a shot at up to $10,000

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Your Hall. Needs Heroes.

We’re enhancing the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame experience, one ticket at a time.

It’s time for us to replace our “vintage” ski machine with something a little more modern. But changing an interactive doesn’t come cheap.

Be Our Hero – get your tickets today for a potential shot at $10,000.

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Out with the old …

Pixels might be cool again, but our ski machine has seen better days. We’ve kept it going, but it’s past its prime.

In with the new.

The super-sized version of our old classic, Super Alpine Racer is as close as you can get to the real thing.

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Support Smiles Thru Lindsey when you order out this month

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Article submitted by Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools

Throughout the month of May, purchase a “Big Smile” burger from Cilantro and Chive and $2 will be donated to the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation as part of École Secondaire Notre Dame High School’s grad service project. This year’s goal is to raise $40,000.

Lily Forsyth and Allyne Simonot, Grade 12 students at École Secondaire Notre Dame High School, worked in collaboration with the chef at Cilantro and Chive to design the “Big Smile” burger. The burger was designed featuring some of Lindsey’s favourite ingredients and is a great way to raise money for an amazing cause. The “Big Smile” features marinated chicken breast, bacon, a sunny fried egg, arugula, tomato, balsamic glaze and a lime avocado aioli on a brioche bun and is served with hand-cut fries.

“The Class of 2021 agreed that in light of COVID-19 mental health should be a priority now more than ever. Lindsey More was, like us, a Notre Dame graduate. After she tragically took her life in 2015, her family began Smiles Thru Lindsey. She was a regular happy girl, nothing seemingly wrong. She was involved in the school community through sports and the grad service project of 2011. We knew that our school community would connect to her and her story as easily as it has,” said Allyne Simonot, student at École Secondaire Notre Dame High School.

“This cause is actually very personal for me, it is another way for me to support my friends who are struggling, a way to communicate to every person who is willing to listen that they are not alone. That everyone is feeling or has felt a toll on their mental health and that there are resources and people out there to help,” said Lily Forsyth, student at École Secondaire Notre Dame High School.

“In a year of such uncertainty, I am so proud of how our students have found such unique ways to fundraise and create awareness for mental health. Through their dedication and creativity, they have been able to partner with some amazing local businesses allowing the entire community the opportunity to be part of our quest to end the stigma surrounding mental health,” said Principal, Rose McQuay at École Secondaire Notre Dame High School.

“We get to meet the wonderful people who work tirelessly behind the scenes in deserving organizations while enjoying delicious burgers created and inspired by amazing people in our community. In just over four years we have been able to give back over $80,000 to local charities and organizations in our own backyard. Thank you to École Secondaire Notre Dame High School for being a part of our Burger of the Month and having some fun with us, while raising awareness for Smiles Thru Lindsey,” said Rieley Kay, owner of Cilantro and Chive restaurant.

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools serves over 10,360 students in 20 schools in Red Deer, Blackfalds, Sylvan Lake, Rocky Mountain House, Innisfail, and Olds, as well as an at-home learning program. It also supports the learning of over 1095 students in a Traditional Home Education Program. The Division is committed to serving children and parents with a complete offering of learning opportunities delivered within the context of Catholic teachings and within the means of the Division.

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may, 2021

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