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A Celebration during Hard Times

They are everywhere among us – quietly, unobtrusively going about their business. Often they are almost invisible, unless we know who they are and what they are doing. They are the hundreds of volunteers who assist West Island non-profit organizations. They are the people who – through their dedication and hard work – make possible many of the crucial services these groups provide to West Island residents.

This has become even more important during the current pandemic. Volunteer West Island’s (VWI) regular volunteers and new volunteers recruited by Andrea De Rome, Volunteer Coordinator for Individuals at VWI are out and about, making a vast difference in the community. Executive Director Lynda Barrett explains, “We’re serving and protecting seniors who are unable to cook for themselves or require assistance in obtaining groceries. The majority have been referred by municipalities, one of three CLSCs, community professionals, or are users of our Meals on Wheels program”.

VWI would like to share stories about some of the volunteers helping these residents. The difficulty is, of course, choosing whom to profile among these amazing folk! We have selected a couple who illustrate the work of many. 

In the words of Shelley Hayden, Outreach Coordinator at Volunteer West Island:

“Octavio (Paul) Rotaru, a Beaconsfield citizen, works from home, takes care of his family, and shops for isolated seniors after work. He’s always ready and willing to help out, no matter how long or short the grocery list is. He also shops multiple times a week and has made connections with our vulnerable senior clientele. He’s getting popular, seniors ask for him specifically! A star in this crisis!”

As an academic and the Lead Solution Architect for a major telecommunication software company, Paul usually travels a great deal – as he says, “from Rome to Rio and everything in between – but due to the pandemic I’m stuck at home – and volunteering keeps me focused. I am trying my best to help the community in which I live – and do the little that I can to contribute. My sincere hope is that by volunteering during Covid-19, I can help protect vulnerable people and improve things for our community to win this together”.

Hilary Jones has a long history of volunteer work. “I have volunteered since I was a kid. My parents both volunteered so it’s always been a part of my life. My family is in lockdown in the UK, my mother and my mother-in-law. Volunteers are grocery shopping for them so I’m paying it forward. It’s a global pandemic, and we need a global response on a local level. We’re all in this together.”

“Hilary has been another star volunteer for me these past few weeks. She shops for groceries for seniors whenever and wherever they want. She stays and chats with them for quite a while too. People are lonely and she is the perfect antidote to this feeling, if only temporarily”, says Shelley.

These are but two examples of the outstanding people who have come forward to help fill crucial needs for others and keep the West Island community functioning with a semblance for normalcy. As Paul Rotaru says, “We all need to stick together and help each other in these unprecedented times”.

Volunteers make a difference in the community!

Newsletter #140



Issue #140


   National Volunteer Week 2020   

April 19th – 25th

 Volunteer West Island, in keeping with its mission, strongly supports and encourages all those interested in becoming volunteers, promoting volunteerism in the community, or setting up a volunteer program for their employees or group members.

Volunteerism strengthens the fabric of a community.  Get involved!  Encourage volunteering and help make YOUR community a better place to live, work, and play!


Thank you to all the volunteers who make a difference in the West Island Community!


Janine Johnson, Le Nichoir Volunteer

 “Volunteers are the heart of Le Nichoir,” states Susan Wylie, Director of Le Nichoir Wild Bird Rehabilitation Centre. “They are what allows Le Nichoir to pursue its mission of conserving wild birds for our natural heritage through providing professional care to injured and orphaned wild birds, as well as offering environmental education programs. In 2019, the staff cared for over 2,100 injured and orphaned wild birds. This would not have been possible without such a strong volunteer base”. Janine Johnson is an extremely dedicated volunteer and a regular face at Le Nichoir.   “I first heard of Le Nichoir from an article about the organization in a local paper. Over the next few years, I found a few birds who needed help and I went to Le Nichoir to drop them off for care, I am passionate about helping animals, wild or domestic. One day I saw Le Nichoir participating in a kiosk at a community event and decided to ask them about volunteering. It seems like yesterday, but it must have been close to seven years ago when I first started volunteering at the Centre. I made a point to commit myself to volunteer on a regular basis. Organizations like Le Nichoir rely on volunteer help to care for their ‘patients’; to get the message out about conservation efforts; and to spread knowledge about the organization to those who have never heard of it. I help with the following tasks: cleaning enclosures, feeding the birds, doing laundry and dishes. I have also participated in kiosks, fundraisers, public events and have transported birds to and from Le Nichoir on occasion. The staff and volunteers are supportive and inclusive, always willing to share their knowledge. The environment is friendly and makes you feel comfortable. I have made friends and have come to meet a lot of really nice people from differing backgrounds and interests. The small part I play in the care for these animals to give them the chance to heal or grow and be released back into the wild, fills me with joy. I am proud to be part of this organization”.

Volunteers make a difference!

March 2020

National Volunteer Week 2020-April 19th – 25th

 WHY WE ALL NEED TO recognize volunteers!

   National Volunteer Week 2020

April 19th – 25th

Volunteer West Island, in keeping with its mission, strongly supports and encourages all those interested in becoming volunteers, promoting volunteerism in the community, or setting up a volunteer program for their employees or group members.

Volunteerism strengthens the fabric of a community.  Get involved!
Encourage volunteering and help make YOUR community a better place to live, work, and play!

Thank you to all the volunteers who
make a difference in the West Island Community!

Newsletter #139



Issue #139

Meals on wheels week in Quebec   March 15th to March 22nd 2020

Meals on Wheels is a volunteer-driven program that provides hot nutritious meals to home-bound or isolated seniors and to those with reduced autonomy. The Meals on Wheels program in the West Island began in a church kitchen in Lachine in 1969. Now, more than 850 volunteer shoppers, cooks, and drivers work in 13 Meals on Wheels kitchens throughout the West Island. Volunteers come from all walks of life and include retired workers, business professionals, homemakers, teachers, entrepreneurs, and many others. Their combined efforts allow over 400 people, who have been referred through hospitals, CLSCs and rehabilitation centers, to receive hot lunches at minimal cost. These fresh, home-cooked meals include a balanced main dish and a dessert prepared by volunteers, and delivered directly to the door by volunteers – 47,000 meals per annum!                                                                            

For more information please call (514) 457-5445.

Two IQVIA Volunteer Teams and Volunteer West Island Make a Difference at Sun Youth at Christmas!

“Very humbling to provide a small amount of help to what is a well-oiled group of volunteers at Sun Youth! Keep up the great work!” said a member of one of the IQVIA teams of volunteers helping out at Sun Youth the week before Christmas. Organized at the company level by Client Service Manager Maria Rafeletos and Shannon Cloutier, Technology Solutions Consultant, in collaboration with Volunteer West Island’s Corporate Volunteer Recruitment program, the pre-Christmas activity allowed volunteers to contribute the crucial work Sun Youth does in the community.  Lisa Perrault, Sun Youth’s Coordinator of Volunteer Services, warmly welcomed the IQVIA teams. Ms Rafeletos shared other comments from her team:
  • “Very humbling experience to be able to help the less fortunate, especially around the holidays.”
  • “Great time…thank you for the very memorable afternoon 😊”
  • “Great eye-opening experience, thank you for all your hard work and dedication!”
Sun Youth, one of Volunteer West Island’s (VWI) community partners, works actively to alleviate poverty and prevent exclusion. The non-profit organization provides individuals and families with a wide range of emergency services such as food, clothing, medical and financial assistance and promotes physical, educational, and intellectual development. Ms Cloutier summed up her team’s comments about their volunteer experience, saying the initiative was very well organized and ran smoothly, that it was a humbling experience, how happy they were to help others less fortunate.  Both Ms Cloutier and Ms Rafelatos said how much they and they colleagues T IQVIA were looking forward to working with VWI again to help out at Sun Youth.                                              

SharkNinja and Volunteer West Island Collaborate to Make a Difference in the Community!

Each year Animatch, Omega Community Resources, and Moisson Montréal look forward eagerly to the celebration of SharkNinja’s annual Impact Day. Organized again at the company level by HR Manager Rose D’Aiuto, in collaboration with Volunteer West Island’s Corporate Volunteer Program, these non-profit organizations benefit from the energy, enthusiasm and hard work of the employees-volunteers from SharkNinja who reach out to the community and lend many much-needed hands! Moisson Montréal is the largest food bank in Canada, offering services to other food banks and community groups, as well as helping families, and individuals. Omega Community Resources is an important West Island resource for clients dealing with mental health challenges. Animatch has relocated to new premises and provides rescue/socialization/adoption opportunities for dogs.   Volunteer activities included classifying donations, packaging, transporting, and organizing stores and inventory at Moisson; cooking, baking, preparing, and serving meals at Omega Day Centre; sorting and arranging building materials and assembling structures at the new Animatch site – and of course, playing with the Animatch Refuge dogs! February 2020

Newsletter #138



Issue #138

The Marriott and Sheraton Hotels Generously Share the Holiday Spirit with Meals on Wheels Clients & Volunteers

Once again, exemplifying the sentiment of giving back to the community, the Sheraton Montreal Airport and the Montreal Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel joined forces with Volunteer  West Island (VWI) staff and Meals on Wheels volunteers to make a difference over the holidays for MOW clients.  “This was an amazing event!” said Amélie Guilbault, VWI Food Services Coordinator. Chef Louis Rodaros, Food & Beverage Supervisor Shannon McCarty, and General Manager Brenda Rodricks from the Marriott and the Sheraton’s Food & Beverage Director Matthew Insogna and their teams Made Christmas magic! They prepared over 450 home-cooked turkey dinners with all the trimmings, topped off with a delicious dessert, and assisted volunteers from the 13 Meals on Wheels kitchens to load their vehicles with for delivery to the MOW clients across the West Island.  The West Island Meals on Wheels program, an entirely volunteer-driven service, was founded in 1969.  Today it comprises 13 MOW kitchen s across the West Island, thanks to the dedication of 850 MOW volunteers who serve 47,000 meals a year to seniors, and those suffering from loss of autonomy.  “We are extremely happy to collaborate with Volunteer West Island and Meals on Wheels in this wonderful initiative,” said Ms Rodricks. January 2020