Celebrating International Day of Charity with Y Volunteers

Celebrating International Day of Charity with Y Volunteers

In honour of September 5th being the International Day of Charity, we are celebrating our amazing YMCA volunteers.

Cyril 3Cyril Fernandes, volunteer group fitness instructor at the Oshawa YMCA

It was only six months after his retirement and Cyril, a police officer for 36 years, began to volunteer at the Oshawa Mary St. YMCA Centre. It was the staff who encouraged him to volunteer, since they knew him to be an active member.

Cyril started off teaching CycleFit, and was later approached to teach AquaFit as well. He said he was hesitant at first because AquaFit was pretty far out of his comfort zone, but after he gave it a shot, he was hooked.

“In a recent AquaFit class of about 30 people, several people told me how they looked forward to attending my classes and that made me feel that doing this is such a worthwhile cause,” he said.

The Y has been a great fit for Cyril, who is very familiar with our values.

“I love what the YMCA stands for in terms of the community, and I can relate to their core values, mission and vision statements which were very similar to ours in policing,” said Cyril.

Cyril says his volunteer work is incredibly rewarding. “You can really make a huge difference in the lives of others,” he said.

Theresa DugwellTheresa Dugwell, volunteer group fitness instructor at the North York YMCA

After just one visit, Theresa returned to the Y and immediately signed up to be a volunteer. Since that day, Theresa has taught CycleFit twice a week for the past 10 years, participated in Megathon annually, and even sat on councils at the Y.

Megathon is one of Theresa’s favourite events at the Y. She is so proud of her ‘MegaFamily’ and one of her fondest memories to date was experiencing Faith Gold (a North York YMCA staff member) finishing 12 hours on an elliptical trainer at Megathon.

“The smile on Faith’s face and her family’s faces was incredible,” said Theresa.

Not only is Theresa an active volunteer and Y member, but she is also just as active in her personal and professional life. Theresa likes to contribute her time to the community in any way that she can.

“If there’s an opportunity to get involved, and I’m available, I’ll be there!” said Theresa.

She is an athlete who holds three Guinness World Records. She is also an entrepreneur, publisher, consultant, author, musician, actor, and so much more; a real jack of all trades.

Sometimes finding time to volunteer can be difficult, but even with Theresa’s busy schedule, she still believes in the power of volunteer work and makes time for it.

“Do it and it will change your life,” she said.

Know any amazing volunteers at your local Y? Tell us about them in the comments below!

For more information about the YMCA of Greater Toronto, please visit ymcagta.org