“My volunteering lights me up”

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I will always be surprised by my volunteer work. Surprised by the varied work he has for me, by the environments he introduces me to and by the wide range of people, whether they be clients, beneficiaries or colleagues, whom he allows me to meet.

My last surprise: that I was asked to write a few words about my volunteer experience. So I’ll summarize it for you. 

One afternoon in July 2013, I went home leaving behind the work of my last 38 years.  Contrary to what I thought at the time, it wasn’t the end. I was always driven by what I think is a passion, maybe I should say an obsession: I wanted to be useful, to do something, to serve something.

So I started looking for a place to stay. I must admit that the process has not always been easy: you don’t find your volunteer work in the time it takes to say it. The most interesting challenges are not displayed; if they are, many of us want them. When you think you’ve found it, you sometimes realize that it’s not what you wanted. 

It took me four years to find my volunteer work. During these years, I held several positions: school meal delivery person, food bank clerk, fresh fruit and vegetable box maker, board member, accounting clerk. I have “volunteered” to serve people in need, people with disabilities and people trying to get by.  However, although all these volunteer experiences were interesting, I felt that they were incomplete. I was about to find out what they were missing.

One day, by chance, I found myself a “receptionist” at the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation.  Without knowing it, I had just found my volunteer job. Let me explain. 

Beyond the notions of service, utility and accomplishment that volunteerism underlies, I must add, since I have been at the Foundation, the notion of enlightenment. My volunteer work illuminates me. It illuminates me because I am constantly touched by the light that comes from people with the disease. This light is in their words, in their attitude, in their will, in their struggle.  I also find light in the work, dedication and generosity of the entire Foundation team, which does its utmost to support people with a disease on a daily basis and to advance medical knowledge and care techniques.

I thank the Foundation for allowing me to fully experience my volunteer work, including surprises.  I would especially like to thank the people who project an enriching light into it. 

Jean Tanguay,