Amazing Volunteers and Supervisors

2016 marked the inaugural year of the TRI Volunteer of the Year Award and the TRI Supervisor of Volunteers Award. These awards were created to celebrate volunteers who have made a significant difference in the lives of our patients and supervisors who provide exceptional leadership and support to our volunteers.

We are grateful to all of our incredible volunteers and supervisors of volunteers who so  generously give their time and expertise.  And the winners are:

Volunteer of the Year Awards

ANDREA KUSEC, Team Lead Unit Support, Neuro ABI-University Centre
Andrea has been volunteering with TRI since June 2011 and has held the leadership role of Team Lead Unit Support for the Neuro Aquired Brain Injury (ABI) program since August 2012.  Andrea takes her leadership role and her responsibilities seriously and exemplifies the virtues of an effective unit support volunteer. She is a fully engaged and committed volunteer who has a genuine compassion for the patients on the unit; her volunteering time always reflects her best effort and ability. A nominator stated, “Andrea is keenly interested in brain injury and rehab and asks insightful questions to inform her interactions with the patients.”

Andrea is currently attending McMaster University studying for her Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science. She has also previously been recognized by TRI as a recipient of the Mark Rochon Leadership Award in Rehabilitative Sciences and the TD Grant in Medical Excellence for her rehabilitative related research.

MARGARET ANTONIDES, President, TRIVA
& Gift Shop Lead Volunteer-Bickle Centre

As President of TRIVA (Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Volunteer Association) , Convener of the Gift Shop and a volunteer for numerous other programs (Garden Party, van driver, Palm Court Tea, and Club 130 to name a few), Margaret has served at Toronto Rehab for over 40 years! The amount of work, hours and years of service she has donated to the organization is truly appreciated by staff and patients at Toronto Rehab.  Her contributions to our patients and patient programs definitely stand out and are the reasons why she was nominated for this award.  A nominator described Margaret as being “incredibly welcoming, committed and hands on”.  Thank you, Margaret, for making a difference in so many lives at Toronto Rehab.

Supervisor of Volunteers Awards

ELAINE ARMSTRONG, Rehabilitation Therapist, Neuro ABI-University Centre
Elaine first approached Volunteer Resources at University Centre in the fall of 2013 to inquire about establishing volunteer roles within the Neuro Aquired Brain Injury’s (ABI) Rehab Therapy program.  This initial conversation resulted in 9 engaging volunteer roles requiring at least 13 volunteer placements! Elaine shared that she was once a volunteer herself at a hospital and that the experience helped shape her healthcare career. She wanted to provide that same opportunity to the volunteers coming to Toronto Rehab. Elaine received multiple nominations from volunteers who report to her. The overriding sentiment was that Elaine is extremely supportive and engaging, has a willingness to educate volunteers, expresses her appreciation to volunteers and is incredibly professional, respectful and encouraging with her patients. One Nominator advised, “Elaine has been an inspiration to me” and that she hoped to “offer the same support, encouragement and positivity that Elaine does” when it comes to her own future healthcare career.

ROBERT BERTELINK, Cardiac Rehab Supervisor
“You are fortunate to have him on your staff.”  This genuine statement was written by a nominator about this wonderful volunteer supervisor at Toronto Rehab’s Rumsey Centre. Rob began working in Cardiac Rehab in 1993; he was hired and trained by the program’s founder, Dr. Terrence Kavanagh. Rob’s role as Cardiac Rehab Supervisor includes overseeing the Heart Function and Heart Transplant Programs, acting as one of two Clinical Coordinators in the program and he runs the graduate exercise program: Take Charge. As a volunteer supervisor, Rob works alongside volunteers in exercise classes, in the Heart Failure and Transplant classes and in graduate programming. Rob advised us, “Our volunteers do more than just help us do stuff; they bring their life experiences and different perspectives to health care and programming that they are willing to share with patients. Their insights are invaluable. It’s relationships like this that are a core reason why our program is world class.”

Congratulations to all who were nominated and to our four winners for 2016!

In photos receiving their awards: at top (l-r) Elaine Armstrong and Andrea Kusec at University Centre; at bottom is Rob Bertelink at Rumsey Centre