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My Volunteer Story - Donna Madill
A Big Sister making a big difference

Meet Donna Madill, a long time volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the recipient of the John Huether Award for Volunteering Excellence at Volunteer MBC’s ‘V-Oscars’ in April, 2017. Donna possesses all the attributes of a John Huether Award winner, and much more, having demonstrated an exemplary commitment to the volunteering sector, and in her continuing devotion of significant personal time and resources towards helping others.
Donna is an outstanding example of a lifelong volunteer champion who inspires others, including this writer, to follow her lead!
What began as an experience with youth volunteers grew into an enduring passion for service and giving. While our ‘champion’ currently resides in Caledon, Donna Madill was brought up in Brampton and Mississauga, with most of her volunteerism involved with Peel region organizations and causes. Her first volunteer experience was while she was a Ranger in ‘Girl Guides of Canada’, volunteering with young girls in Brownies.  Even in such an early stage, she shone as one of the youngest leaders in her senior branch.
Donna has spent over 30 years as a valued volunteer of ‘Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel’. She strongly believes in that organization’s mission of mentoring youth with the goal of inspiring and empowering them to be productive members of society. Donna also has volunteered with other organizations, notably the ‘Headwaters Health Care Centre’, in its emergency and diagnostic services units as a volunteer team leader, using her career experience as a police officer. Donna is honoured to serve as the current Board President of the ‘Peel Regional Police Retirees Association’.
Policing inspired Donna to give back to the community, because her career was witness at times to people at their worst, including the most vulnerable in our communities. She realized how helping out a little bit can go a long way to make life better and more inclusive for many people. She believes that, “If you are lucky enough to have a job, family, plus your health, then why not do something to help others make their lives better?”
What really stands out for Donna in her volunteering experience are the many activities that she has been able to participate in. She has especially enjoyed opportunities where volunteers are encouraged to have fun, and even ‘act silly’, because policing routinely is quite serious work. Her volunteering has been worthwhile on account of all the ‘little things’ that continue to add up to a beautiful, fulfilling personal life experience. 
Recently, Donna reconnected with one of her ‘little sisters’. Over 10 years had passed since both had been in touch, and the ‘little sister’ reached out to Donna with the delightful news that she was starting a Master’s Degree program. The ‘little sister’ was full of gratitude, having realized just how important her relationship with her ‘big sister’ was in leading her on such a successful academic path. You can readily imagine how rewarding such news and corresponding acknowledgement were for Donna.
For those wishing to volunteer, Donna’s advice is to determine what inspires you and what captures your imagination, in order to lead you to suitable roles. “If you enjoy what you are doing, you will remain committed,” she says, “And there is a variety of volunteer opportunities within any single organization, whether you are interested in marketing, communications, client engagement, or direct services.”
Donna doesn’t consider volunteering ‘work’, at all, but a chance to explore other parts of yourself. Certainly, Donna continues to derive so much as the result of her experiences in Peel region’s volunteering community, and she offers a final word of advice, “Never underestimate the power of volunteering, … to yourself or others.”                                                                                      

Written by Melody La
Written by Melody Lau