I'm very, very excited to join the Summits of Hope team on their 2007 expedition to Ecuador. I have been participating with volunteer organizations since high school and this has taught me to value these organizations not just for oneself, but also for their contributions to communities. Many people in my life have demonstrated to me that resource availability to those in need has an impact, sometimes improving the prognosis, sometimes the quality of life and sometimes both either directly or indirectly. I first noticed this while working as a Program Leader for the East Richmond Community Association which introduced me to children of variable abilities and resources, and also, because I had the privilege to witness the long-term development of a young lady in my family who began her life with only the weakest prognosis.
A lot of the highlights in the past ten years involve activities associated to voluntary organizations. One of the most important were the years I spent with a medical venturing unit with Scouts Canada which took a small group from BC in 1997 to Canadian Jamboree in Thunder Bay, Ontario and the 1999 Provincial Jamboree on the Sunshine Coast. In later years I had the opportunity to amalgamate my involvement with community programs with my Scout endeavors and for about three years we helped support local youth events throughout Richmond as First Responders. These events included the ever poplular Cambie dances that attracted about 800 youth from as far away as Mission.
My near decade long engagement with the City of Richmond, and the East Richmond Community Association, as a Lifeguard and Swimming Instructor, a program leader, a special events coordinator, a special needs leader, a swing-dance instructor and other various odds and ends allowed me to meet with and listen to so many different groups of people that it becomes difficult to imagine what many of them would be doing without fairer access to community resources, and this extends from toddlers to even the vibrant personalities at the Minoru Place Seniors Activity Centre.
But my life has not been all about work. I have made three trips overseas, the first two to India and Europe were personal pursuits, and solidified my interest in travel. My third trip was in 2003 when I decided take on a three-month project in Guyana with a group called Youth Challenge International. I have also worked on projects in Manitoba after the Red River Flood, and in a Mexican Orphanage in Ensenada. Still, the most local pursuits have proven to be the most lucrative.
However, since my return from Guyana I returned to school to complete the degree I started when I first left high school. Any ambitious travel plans, and volunteerism were put on a temporary hiatus. Eight consecutive semesters, and forty-three classes later, I'm giddy as a little school kid to pick up where I left off.
Summits of Hope has appealed to me on a number of levels, most notably because it promises 100% of its fundraising and its efforts work on a local level. Also, I can't imagine a more exciting way to make a statement about a cause. I've always enjoyed the outdoors and physical fitness. Just last April I was proud to be place first in the BC Bronze Gloves Novice Boxing Tournament. However, until now, fiscal responsibilities took precedence over personal hobbies. In the future I'm looking forward to reviving this sport, as well as my old diving certification, dragging out the skis and maybe, just maybe exploring more of Vancouver Island's vast network of caves.
"Everybody has a mountain to climb!"
Mt. Kilimanjaro 2005