2023 NPD Stories

Thank you to everyone who submitted a story for 2023 National Philanthropy Day!

Heathers Story

Meet Heather, our Island Crisis Care Society “Volunteer of the Month.” Heather grew up in the Edson and Hinton areas of Alberta. The daughter of two teachers who were “amateur naturalists,” she spent much of her childhood outdoors. Her parents’ Christian faith was also modeled in their home impacting Heather’s future education, varied work and volunteer endeavors. After receiving her B.Ed. Heather “taught for 5 years before buying a piece of land from a relative in the 80’s and opening a center that offered outdoor and peace and conflict education.” Various other jobs have included working for the University of Alberta, as a writer and book publisher, as an arborist, and at Nanaimo’s Bethlehem Centre. She also went back to school for a master’s degree in Theological Studies. Heather is now a spiritual director which “informs her listening practice with people who she meets.” This skill is one she’s “able to bring to the clients at Samaritan Place.”


During semi-retirement Heather settled in Nanaimo. She was “looking for something to do” and started volunteering at Nanaimo Community Hospice where she trained for “palliative care and grief and loss support… The Hospice had a program to deliver comfort kits on request to those grieving the loss of a loved one.” One day Heather made a delivery to a client at Samaritan Place. She was “barely in the door” when Heather met Ronell and learned of their need for volunteer support. They were in the midst of building the new facility. Once it was completed, Ronell contacted Heather through Sara, the ICCS Volunteer Coordinator and Heather soon began coming regularly to offer her support.

Heather is largely motivated by her “belief in social justice.” She explained that the initial “meeting with Ronell seemed serendipitous. If felt like an opening to a place I needed to be. I had been hungering to meet people from that demographic. I needed to immerse myself more, to better understand where people are coming from. It is fine to talk, read or write about homelessness but I needed to know people who were experiencing it, to help them find their voice in some small ways. Sometimes I wonder what I have to offer. I probably get more from the experience of talking to these people than I give. Volunteering with ICCS allows me to sit in compassion and pushes my growing edges… It’s beautiful to hear their stories, affirm their stories and affirm their humanity.” Heather added one final and powerful truth. “The work of ICCS is phenomenal in this community; whatever it takes as a volunteer to support it matters!”

Trevor's Story

Trevor is a man who stays current with world events. Within minutes of meeting we were into a lively discussion on the drug crisis, the war in Ukraine, and American politics.

He currently owns two guitars and his passion for music quickly became apparent. He is an accomplished composer with numerous fragments for potential songs percolating in his brain at any given time. His mom noted his musical talents and urged him to join the school band. The only opening was for a bass drummer but a guitar soon proved more attractive. In his 20’s he and his friends would rent a hall, sell tickets, and perform. He played with, and formed several groups but the Speedway Blue’s Band remains a favourite. He marvelled at how brave and spontaneous they were with these performances He and his brother-in-law were a great musical team who loved teasing his sister with their music antics.

Trevor began life in Parksville. He was among the first wave of baby boomers born to a WWII Veteran and his British War Bride. Two sisters followed his 1947 arrival. Sometime in his preschool days the young family shifted to Vancouver where he grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins who all lived within a half mile radius.

When Trevor was 13 crisis came to this childhood home. A teary-eyed distraught mom told him his dad had Muscular Dystrophy and would be paralyzed within 6 years. Trevor felt overwhelmed. Would he need to step up and be the man of the house? The pressure was too much. He got into fights at school and soon quit. In his 30s, during a bought of depression, he came to understand just how important that moment had been. The trauma and fear surrounding his dad’s illness pivoted his life in a whole different direction.

By 15 he had morphed from a kid in school, enjoying band practise, to a young man in a lumber camp performing hard labour. It was a rough initiation to work life. Many of the workers were former prisoners. Later he worked with a large BC construction company. building the highway to Horseshoe Bay and laying gas pipeline around Burns Lake. Stints spent working on fishing boats and an interesting job with a skilled carpenter gave him opportunities to learn and pick up different skills. He was always intrigued with the many different sides to each job from start to finish. He still expresses this healthy curiosity at life around him.

Trevor lives at Orca Place. His furnished studio apartment, with its own bathroom, contains a small fridge, a microwave, and a two-burner stove top. Three meals are available, but he usually chooses to cook his own breakfast and lunch. He will take the supper provided to his room to reheat and eat late in the evening. When we met he had just purchased all the ingredients for an omelette. It did sound delicious. He is a capable cook and an aware shopper. The cost of the green pepper shocked him.

Seniors who are on fixed incomes are particularly vulnerable to today’s inflation rates and current high housing costs. Hard choices must be made. These inflationary realities are reflected in the demographics at Orca Place where 40% of the current residents are seniors. Trevor expressed both relief and gratitude for the help he receives. Here rent absorbs just of income.

As with all communal living there are rules and restrictions. Security cameras are placed in the office to watch activities in the public areas of the building. The glass walls of the office, strategically placed at the entrance to the building, mean all visitors and residents are monitored going in and out. Trevor understands the necessity for these rules.

At 75 medical issues, both physical and mental, are driving factors in his days and his life. He was diagnosed as bipolar in his forties. Doctors struggled to find the correct drug for him. They did, and it has remained effective for many years now. Serious heart issues required surgery and he experiences shortness of breath with too much exertion. He has applied to the chronic pain management clinic in Nanaimo hoping that it will offer relief from the severe pain and muscle soreness he is experiencing.

All of these issues need monitoring. His case worker drives him to and attends his appointments. Trevor likes having the extra help in the room. Who among us doesn’t appreciate an advocate?

Trevor is a man with a deep faith. As he ages, he has a growing sense of gratitude for the many times God has intervened in his life to direct his journey. His faith allows him to look calmly into the future and in his words “See what God puts out for me”.

Joan's Story

Joan Peggs started volunteering for the Belfry back in 1976, the year after the theatre opened! This was also the year she transferred to Lambrick Park School to teach Home Economics and Physical Education. Joan volunteered in the concession booth, which in those days, when we shared the building with The Cool Aid Society, was located inside the actual theatre at the back of the seating area; she watched the performance perched on a stool behind the concession counter. Joan found that volunteering allowed her a means to see all the shows and enjoy a social outing as a single person.

A particular play that stands out for Joan is the one-woman show from 1981, Maggie & Pierre, written by Linda Griffiths and Paul Thompson.  Joan says that Patricia Oatman, who performed in the Belfry production, was absolutely outstanding in using her voice and mannerisms to move from one character to the next, playing both Pierre and Margaret Trudeau.

Joan regularly visits her sister in Stratford, so she can attest to how well-produced Belfry shows are by comparison, and also notes that our ticket prices are much lower. It always surprises Joan when she meets longtime Victorians who are just getting around to visiting the Belfry for their first time. As someone who has been coming to the theatre for almost four decades, she’s easily a champion for the cause. One more reason she believes in the value of the theatre to the community? “The Belfry supports a huge infrastructure job-wise in Victoria.”

Joan commends the Belfry for its generosity to its volunteers. But let’s take a moment to appreciate how very generous Joan has been to the Belfry! In addition to her volunteer work, she makes a substantial annual donation and faithfully attends every AGM as a voting member. This season, she’s taking on an additional role in joining our fundraising committee, so she can help with event-planning.

We are fortunate to have Joan contribute her time and support to the Belfry on all these levels, especially since she is active elsewhere in the community, including the Rotary Club.

Joan is one of our 250 volunteers who welcome you to the theatre and pour you a drink at intermission. Our volunteers help us provide a welcoming atmosphere at the Belfry, and keep our ticket prices affordable for everyone in the community.

Susan Stevenson, Development Manager

Julia's Story

I'm privileged to be part of the University of Victoria, where Giving Tuesday has been a growing wave of altruistic energy since 2016. This 24-hour celebration of philanthropy brings opportunities to the entire UVic community to learn, participate, donate, and have fun, all for the greater good.

Students new to philanthropy discover the power of generosity, alumni reconnect and remember their role in making a difference, and professors and staff engage in friendly competition, all fueling a contagious enthusiasm for giving. The real impact shines through as scholarships expand, research gets funded, and community outreach programs reach new heights.

Thanks to the Annual Giving Team and the entire university community, Giving Tuesday is more than just donations; it's a day of empowerment, compassion, and unity. It reminds us that when a community comes together, they can create incredible and lasting change.

The impact of collective community action across this island never ceases to amaze. This is why AFP Vancouver Island is so excited to share stories like this, this National Philanthropy Day!


Julia Keenan

AFP VI President