Give A Mile is 100% run by volunteers, so we are incredibly fortunate to have such amazing group of people on our team.
It is our privilege to highlight our volunteer group, sharing the stories from some wonderful people that help us provide flights for families.
Yvonne Dewar has worn many hats during her tenure with our organization; she’s played a crucial role in Give a Mile’s success. We truly cannot thank her enough for all the ways she has help us in our mission, so we are thrilled to shine the spotlight on her this quarter!
Explain your volunteer position.
The role was a liaison between the palliative care community (social workers, chaplains, nurses, docs) and GAM. The goal in the earlier years was to create awareness about the organization. We were more visible in the west and wanted to share our story and the amazing work we do with the rest of the country. Sharing of information about the program, and how to access and get flights booked was a larger part for me.
Connecting with flight recipients after they returned home from visiting their loved one in hospice, or wherever they were was a critical piece for sharing with donors, and the rest of the volunteer team. Attending our fund raising events was a really special time. We’d do Stampede Breakfasts, golf tourneys, beer tasting, a lovely gala event. It was great to walk around and chat with folks who had an interest in our work.
We had a booth at palliative conferences here in Calgary, and Ottawa a few years back. This was a great way to connect with the caregivers on the front lines in the palliative care community. Being on the flight review team was the first role I took on. Some flight requests are rather complex and required a team approach to determine eligibility. I was always so impressed with the speed and turnaround time in processing a flight! Time is usually of the essence and the amazing work of the booking agents in setting things up asap was incredible.
Doing a quarterly newsletter that we distributed to the palliative community would highlight the various campaigns we did to bring loved ones together. With a target number of flights at Christmas, Mothers and Fathers Days- we’ve met or often surpassed our goals!
When did you join Give a Mile?
I think about 8 years ago; don’t remember exactly what year.
Why did you decide to volunteer for the organization?
Well, I was at a palliative care conference here in Calgary, and met Kevin Crowe. He was there to create more awareness and share the story of GAM. I felt an immediate connection- and thought this would be something very meaningful for me to be part of. I remember going home that day and telling my husband about it. It was a really good fit for me to volunteer. I was a hospice nurse at the time and I had witnessed the incredible power of the dying having their loved ones visit. It brought hope, healing, and the gift of spending precious time together. My experiences at the bedside all came down to one thing- being with the people they loved is what they wanted more than anything. If I could be part of fostering that hope of a visit, it created such meaning for me and brought such fulfillment.
What was the most fulfilling part of your volunteer position?
The stories, the stories. Bearing witness to the story. Such a privilege to share and listen to the impact of the visit. It has enriched my life in many ways. I felt so honoured that the folks that were flight recipients were willing to share the details of what the visit meant to them, and their loved ones.
Please describe your most memorable experience from your time with Give a Mile.
Being part of this volunteer group, I have met some fine people. In fact, everyone that I’ve connected with through GAM have been the kindest, caring, and compassionate people. It speaks to the inherent goodness in people. Humanity.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen over your time with the organization?
So many new people have joined- bringing their expertise to the group. We’ve made incredible progress thanks to the driving force led by Kevin Crowe, and the rest of this great team. It’s really nothing short of incredible. GAM is now affiliated with supporting veterans in the US with a dedicated team of volunteers there; we’ve made the Wall St. Journal.
For anyone who is looking to create meaning and fulfillment in their lives- this is where you can find it. The power of kindness. A simple concept of donating loyalty points (free) to give the most precious gift.