Perhaps nobody understands the meaning of altruism the way Hema Vaswani does. A yoga instructor by trade, she began volunteering at the suggestion of her community service program administrator, as a way to enhance her communication and counselling skills.
Hema's first two volunteer positions were served as a distress counsellor at the Distress Centre of Peel, and as part of the Multi-Cultural Inter-Agency Group of Peel (MIAG), where she presented workshops to (and developed a custom yoga class for) seniors.
Upon getting started, Hema quickly realized that she had a profound love for giving back to others, which drove her to continue to broaden her horizons. It also paid off in financial ways: she was offered a job teaching yoga at the Dixie-Bloor Neighbourhood Centre.
When asked what her greatest accomplishment to date has been, Hema's response was one that resonates with many volunteers: "There can be no greater achievement than the inner satisfaction that comes from hearing yourself be described as an angel by someone on the other end of the distress line." Coming in a close second is the sense of satisfaction that comes from hearing from the seniors to whom she teaches yoga that they sleep better at night because of her.
Noticing a pattern? Hema's selflessness is a major part of her personal philosophy. When asked if she had any advice for others, she responded by saying, "loving is giving, and giving is loving". Words to live by.
Written by: Jason Repovs