Nadjim Hirji, Cindy Chiu, Nicky & Cleophee Eaton, Kerry O’Reilly Wilks & Lloyd Wilks, Luca Cepparo, Gail Dhruv, Mike Flux, Mike Bowman
National Volunteer Week, April 16-22, is a time to celebrate those who give of their time to help others in their community. At St. Michael’s Foundation, our volunteers are remarkable for their relentless commitment to our hospitals. We can’t thank them enough.
Here is why some of our volunteers stop at nothing for our community.
Volunteer since 2017
Nadim Hirji moved to Toronto from Calgary in 2017. He was looking to contribute to his new community and, at the same time, was working through the loss of his father, who before his passing had suffered a stroke and needed rehab and long-term care.
“I took a tour of Providence, and it all fell into place for me. I saw what a difference that kind of quality care can make and how much of a home it can be. I immediately signed up to be on the foundation board because I wanted to give back.”
Six years later, Nadim is still on the foundation board and takes particular pride in being involved in Angel Ball, which supports both St. Michael’s Hospital and Providence Healthcare. He believes in a world where more people volunteer.
“Giving your time and growing the good in life feels great and is the right thing to do. We are very fortunate, and it is our privilege to be able to give back within the communities that we work in. Being a part of the St. Michael’s Foundation vision and helping the two hospitals succeed is exciting and rewarding.”
Volunteer since 2009
Cindy Chiu began volunteering for St. Michael’s Foundation back in 2009. She works at the hospital, and she’d heard about the Urban Angel Golf Classic. She thought it might be fun to get involved. It was. And Cindy has been volunteering ever since.
“There is only so much I can give by way of financial support, but I can give my time and my enthusiasm. And for an important cause like healthcare, which does so much good, I’m very happy to do that.”
Cindy is looking forward to volunteering at next year’s Angel Ball, the foundation’s biggest fundraising event. It’ll be a chance to meet donors in-person again, and work together with other volunteers and foundation staff, which she always enjoys. And that enjoyment is at the heart of her message to anyone who is considering volunteering.
“You can have fun doing it and, at the same time, know you are doing a good thing. If you pick a great cause, like supporting St. Michael’s Hospital or Providence Healthcare, then you are really getting the best of both worlds.”
Nicky & Cleophee Eaton
Volunteer for more than 20 years & volunteer since 2022
Nicky Eaton is very clear about why she has been a volunteer at St. Michael’s Foundation for more than 20 years.
“I truly believe St. Michael’s is the best hospital in the city. The physicians are extraordinary. And it’s a research powerhouse. As a kidney donor myself, I am immensely proud of the stunning new Transplant and Advanced Kidney Care Centre that opened earlier this spring.”
Nicky co-chaired that campaign. She is also proud of the work of the Power Circle to close the equity gap for women’s health. On top of that, she encourages friends and family to support St. Michael’s. This includes her daughter, Cleophee, who now volunteers for the BARLO MS Centre’s new campaign–a cause that is close to the family’s heart.
“I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree,” laughs Cleophee. “Being involved in building healthier communities has always been very important to my mom–and to me.”
Kerry O’Reilly Wilks & Lloyd Wilks
Volunteers since 2015
Kerry O’Reilly Wilks and Lloyd Wilks almost lost their son, Malachy. There was a serious complication 33 weeks into their pregnancy, and Malachy had to be delivered immediately to save mom and baby. The staff in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) cared for him round the clock. Since then, Kerry and Lloyd have supported the hospital. They have organized soirées, raising more than a million dollars for the NICU at St. Michael’s Hospital. Kerry also sits on the St. Michael’s Foundation board of directors, and Lloyd on the capital campaign leadership team.
For Kerry and Lloyd, the need to pay it back and pay it forward by volunteering is obvious.
“I can say with certainty that without people giving some aspect of themselves, whether it's their brain, their heart or their money, humanity won't progress and make the world a better place,” says Kerry. “Because St. Michael’s can't do it on their own.”
“I see volunteering as a responsibility we all share, as members of this society, especially around healthcare," adds Lloyd. "We are all likely to need medical care at some point, and we are all likely to have loved ones who do. I want everyone to have the kind of care my son and wife did. That's why I volunteer.”
Volunteer since 2022
A few years ago, Luca Cepparo’s grandfather received cancer treatment at St. Michael’s. In 2022, when Luca began thinking about doing some volunteering, the question of where to do it was easily answered.
“I want to help a place that helps patients like my grandfather, who received phenomenal care at St. Michael’s. I want to make an impact.”
Luca is now a proud member of SMYL and very much looking forward to helping with events, such as DODGER, Toronto’s premier charity dodgeball tournament. And his admiration for the hospital that took such good care of his grandfather has only grown.
“St. Michael’s is not only trying to, but also actively making an impact in patient care, drastically improving the patient experience every day. That is definitely something I want to get behind."
Volunteer since 2021
Gail Dhruv began volunteering in 2021. She had attended Angels Den several years in a row and was so impressed that she felt a need to take part.
“It feels so good to use my time and connections to give back. And with Angels Den, I get to be part of helping leaders in medical innovation achieve the success their breakthrough ideas deserve. How powerful is that!”
Angels Den remains her main reason for volunteering, but she says she is also a big fan of HUMANCARE and frequently sings the praises of St. Michael’s Foundation.
“I am grateful to be part of this powerful, connected team, and I hope to keep bringing value, using my network to grow awareness of the foundation and bring in donations.”
Volunteer since 2006
Mike Flux’s boss suggested he attend a meeting to learn about St. Michael’s Hospital and possibly volunteer. That was in 2006, and he never looked back.
“Yes, I suppose I was coerced into volunteering by my boss,” laughs Mike. “But ultimately, I couldn’t be more grateful because it led to me finding a life’s passion in social impact and strategic philanthropy. More people should consider volunteering in their younger years–why wait?"
Seventeen years later, Mike is a member of the President’s Council and Vice-Chair of the HUMANCARE campaign, and chairs the Professional Advisor Task Force.
"Three things I have always been passionate about are innovating healthcare, alleviating poverty, and particularly fighting for our fellow citizens who are marginalized and excluded. St. Michael's brought these charitable focuses together for me, in a big way."
Volunteer since 2020
About 12 years ago, Mike Bowman’s wife was hit by a car. She was rushed to St. Michael’s Hospital where she received what Mike describes as outstanding care and she made a complete recovery.
Then, five years ago, Mike’s sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). She has been receiving treatment at St. Michael’s BARLO MS Centre, the largest clinic in Canada, ever since. Again, Mike describes the care as outstanding.
“It’s a tough way to get to know a hospital, but St. Michael’s has made a huge and positive impact on my life,” he says. “And of course the BARLO MS Centre is an amazing place, where they are taking MS care, education and research to the next level.”
And so in order to give back to the hospital, Mike joined the St. Michael’s Foundation President’s Council to help raise money for the hospital’s priorities, and the BARLO campaign committee, where he is working to raise donations to help our clinicians and scientists stop MS in its tracks.
“Hospitals can always benefit from volunteers pitching in to help them secure the money they need to deliver great care to patients. Thanks to St. Michael’s, my sister and wife are living their lives. I am so grateful.”
Interested in volunteering for St. Michael's Foundation? Learn how to get involved.
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