Life can present a chance, but it is knowing when to take it. Volunteer Elizabeth Ewashkiw, of Belleville, can tell you. "Opportunities just come knocking on your door, and it's up to you to decide which ones you will do and which ones you can't do," she said. Ewashkiw has knit since she was seven-years-old. During summer trips to her family cottage, her aunt, who was a sewing teacher at the time, would show her.
Laurie Ethier has been coaching and refereeing public school and high school basketball on a volunteer basis in Belleville for the last 12 years. Ethier fell in love with the sport after her daughter Cassandra began playing at Prince of Wales public school in her grade seven-eight year. Cassandra is now 24.
Diane Burley is an 8-year veteran of Belleville's Grandmothers for Africa, a nation wide organization for senior aged women who donate money and materials to grandmothers in rural Africa. Burley specializes in knitting sweaters for babies and says she doesn't enjoy the thought of young children dieing on her watch. "We knit pneumonia vests in three different sizes because you might think, oh this is Africa, this is a hot place, but at night it gets cold.
BELLEVILLE – When reading local news stories involving youth within the community, a Loyalist College student was inspired to volunteer in the hopes of making a difference. Jonathan Southward, 20, a community justice student at Loyalist College, hopes to shape young lives to lead them down right paths in life. "I started seeing certain people (kids) that made the news because of their criminal justice behaviour," he said. His community service focuses on improving the lives of children of all kinds. In the future, he wants to work with children that have criminal problems to get them on the right track.
BELLEVILLE – After spending four years as the Belleville Garden Club’s secretary, Loyalist College employee Barbara Hayward stepped up to assume the volunteer role of president for the past two years when no one else would. “I knew how it all worked and what needed to be done. A lot of people are scared of this kind of position,” she said. The Garden Club is a non-profit group that aims to foster an interest in horticulture among its members and improvement in the Belleville community. Hayward organizes meetings, speakers, events, plant sales, bus trips and is responsible for reporting to the Ontario Horticultural Association.
BELLEVILLE – Mental health patients are only a phone call away from friendship thanks to volunteers such as 86-year-old Maurice Campbell, who has helped the Canadian Mental Health Association of Hastings and Prince Edward for over 14 years. Campbell is one of four volunteers for the organization’s assertive telephone outreach program. He says he comes in every Friday for a few hours and reaches out to 10-12 people every shift who suffer from mental illness. Patients are referred to the organization by their caseworkers, doctors or others who care for them. “It just seemed to be something that I’d like doing,” says Campbell, who learned about the position from an ad in the newspaper and decided he was interested in seeing what the organization was all about.
It is not unusual for a hockey coach to work with a team, watching players come and go, but staying at the same level in the league. But for Belleville resident Dan Truman, he has coached the same group of players for nearly all their playing careers, growing and evolving with them. Since Truman was three-years-old, his life was all about hockey. "My buddies and I would dress up in suits and gel our hair playing road hockey because that's what the pros did," he said. Growing up, he played defense for the Belleville Bobcats and Quinte Red Devils.
It can be very expensive trying to place children in local sports and arts programs. In some cases, it could cost thousands of dollars. But a Belleville couple has created an organization to help families. No Limits is an organization that allows parents to enroll their children in sports at a lower cost. Brenda and Peter Gabriel founded it in 2012, and in November 2014 it became a non-profit organization. Together the two have over 20 years of volunteer experience.