A Bachelor of Social Work student at UBC, Colton was keen to work with the queer community because he wanted to give back. Attending a similar group when he was younger, Colton appreciated connecting with other youth in a place where everyone belonged and shared similar experiences.
Years later, at QMUNITY, he helps create safe spaces with his thoughtful attention to the people in them. Colton has learned to work from a strong anti-oppression framework and connects with youth, staff, and volunteers with true acceptance and kindness. He excels at welcoming new youth, drawing everyone into group spaces and making people feel heard. From his interactions and presence in drop-ins to his planning and leadership in programming, Colton’s attention to making positive contributions is felt.
Colton likes learning from the Youth Workers and hearing the intelligent things youth have to say. His favourite drop-in activities are Hide-and-Seek at the library, the cabaret, and board game nights. Outside of QMUNITY, Colton’s favourite activities include hiking and biking the North Shore and walking his long haired Chihuahua, Jackson. Colton also makes positive contributions at school, where he is a member of the Indigenous Social Work Student Association, a group interested in developing the presence of indigenous people in the field of social work.
Thank you, Colton! You continually go above and beyond in all you do. Your genuine compassion and ability to draw people into group spaces makes them safe and inclusive.
March 2014: Vicki Chan
QMUNITY recognizes Vicki Chan for her thoughtfulness, initiative, and warmth as a Library Coordinator volunteer.
Originally from Toronto, Vicki moved to Vancouver because she loves big cities. After her first term of the Master of Library and Information Studies degree at UBC, Vicki saw the Library Coordinator Volunteer posting at QMUNITY and applied to put her new skills into practice. On top of skillfully performing the regular responsibilities of managing the QMUNITY library system, receiving and cataloguing new items, networking with other libraries, and ensuring the library volunteer team is all on the same page, Vicki identified the need for better record-keeping practices. This has led to the process of centralizing all library-related data and updating policies and procedures.
Vicki shines both at the technical and the social sides sides of the role and she is supportive of those around her. She is an ally and friend of the LGBTQ community and has spoken publically of the importance of spaces like QMUNITY. Vicki’s creativity can be seen in her ability to find solutions and in her life outside of school, work, and volunteering: she is an accomplished painter who loves to knit and is a self-identified yarn snob! She also loves animals but isn’t sure if she’s a cat or a dog person. After she graduates, Vicki hopes to work in special libraries, hopefully somewhere with lots of information and people. We wish you all the best, Vicki, and know that whoever gets to work with you will be lucky to have you on their team!
Thank you, Vicki. Your bright personality and impeccable ability to initiate and organize have brought out the best not only in the Out on Shelves Library at QMUNITY, but in all the people involved with it.
February 2014: Mark Bentley Cohen
QMUNITY recognizes Mark Bentley Cohen for his positive contributions and advocacy in supporting and celebrating the Bi community with QMUNITY.
Mark’s dedication to supporting and celebrating the Bi community has seen him offering his time, knowledge, and energy at QMUNITY in a variety of settings. Mark is a facilitator of the BiFocus peer-facilitated group and he has also been a guest speaker in other peer-facilitated groups, helped with special events, and generously gave a benefit performance, in conjunction with Frank Theatre, of his self-penned one man play, “Bi, Hung, Fit … and Married.” Throughout these initiatives, Mark has shared his quick humour, energetic communication style, and deep dedication to supporting the Bi community. Mark’s eagerness to keep developing and expanding his own knowledge make him a great resource for folks looking to develop and expand themselves. He is generous with sharing his own story and loves to hear the stories of others.
Mark came out to Lianna, his wife, over 5 years ago and says doing so strengthened the marriage so much so that they now co-facilitate sex-positive workshops around the city. Mark and Lianna are proud parents of two and once spent a year on a family trip travelling around the world! As if he weren’t busy enough, Mark recently penned and self-published, “Confessions of a Bisexual Husband,” sharing his story and adventures. Mark wants to make his time count, to be on the Ellen Degeneres show, and to make a difference to as many people as possible. So far, so good, Mark.
Thank you, Mark! Your energy, compassion, and humour in supporting and shining a spotlight on experiences of bisexuality help us all celebrate and include the ‘B’ in LGBTQ.
January 2014: Adam Tittley
QMUNITY recognizes Adam Tittley for his positive energy and thoughtful contributions to group spaces at QMUNITY.
Adam began volunteering with Gab Youth programs because he wanted to be a part of helping kids find different opportunities to create community. Growing up noticing a lack of role models and resources for gay youth, Adam looked at what he wished had existed for him and sought to provide it for others. Adam has become a trusted and much loved Gab Youth drop-in volunteer and has also volunteered as a co-facilitator with a Men’s Coming Out group. In these roles, Adam shows kindness and compassion to all he meets, creates safe and welcoming spaces, and shares from his own wealth of experience to encourage others.
Adam loves the outdoors and likes to spend as much time outside with friends as he can get. He is an avid skier and snowboarder as well as an accomplished yoga teacher. Adam’s interest in supporting youth is also reflected in his work outside of QMUNITY. He developed and leads the Empowerment Through Movement Program, most recently run at The Burnaby Youth Hub. The program exposes youth to outdoor activities that can be done for low or no cost and includes workshops on self-care and acceptance. Adam also travels with youth completing international services projects and has travelled to places including Hawaii, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands.
Adam values the safe spaces that are created for people to try out different ways of being and reacting. His attention to the spaces, and to the people in them, make them not only safe, but warm. Adam’s calm and open presence makes others feel comfortable and accepted. He is approachable and inspiring.
Thank you, Adam, for your attention to the well-being of the people around you and for being a positive role model to us all.
Volunteer of the Month – December 2013
QMUNITY recognizes Diane Hollands for her initiative, organization, and passion as a Moving Images Project volunteer with Generations.
Listening to the stories of a group of friends who had been in service together – and now got together to play the occasional game of poker – Diane was inspired to capture the history of the old days in Vancouver and the people in it. She knew many aging seniors had great stories to tell and if not recorded, one day these stories could be lost. Diane started the Moving Images project with QMUNITY in the late 2000s, helping to secure a grant for equipment, training others on how to use the equipment and conduct interviews and, with the team of 20+ volunteers, recording over 39 hours of tape.
Diane loves people and stories and was particularly interested in the different stories of LGBTQ service people who had felt accepted during their service. She believes a good interviewer needs to have a genuine interest in asking questions deeper than surface level and hopes this project helps folks understand the people before us that paved the way.
Diane has a warm presence and a way of listening that encourages people to open up. When not generously donating her time with QMUNITY, Diane runs Life Story Videos, works at YVR in pre-boarding, and can be found gardening. Diane is a diver, a travel-lover, and together with her partner of seven years, Diana, is looking forward to going on an upcoming Olivia Cruise in the Caribbean.
Thank you, Diane. Your genuine curiosity, love of people, and care in recording the stories of those who have come before us help us to understand each other and our history and see how far we have come.
Volunteer of the Month – November 2013
QMUNITY would like to recognize Caylin Todd for her outstanding contribution to our organization.
Caylin has been volunteering with us for over a year in Resource Reception. Each week she assists clients to connect with our various services and groups, sign up for the clinic or locate external resources. Caylin is known for her gentle reassuring ways and willingness to listen.
Caylin recently took up the role of group facilitator for Trans* Gathering. In this new challenge she will put her exceptional people skills, compassion for others and drive to support her community to use.
In addition to volunteering with QMUNITY, Caylin can be found at the George Pearson Centre doing one-on-one visitation with the residents there. When she isn’t volunteering Caylin is a full-time science student at UBC, who is hoping to follow that up with a second degree in nursing, something we all know she will be fantastic at. Just in case nursing doesn’t work out, Caylin has a back-up plan to be a space pirate.
In her free time, Caylin enjoys going home to the farm she grew up on in Abbotsford, playing card games with friends, or snuggling with the beau.
Thank you, Caylin! You are truly a remarkable woman.
Volunteer of the Year – 2013
QMUNITY is proud to announce Roy Newby as our Volunteer of the Year!
As one of our most trustworthy, experienced volunteers, we are so honoured to bestow this honour on Roy. He began volunteering with QMUNITY’s Resource Reception and Prideline services in 1998 and has remained one of the most dedicated, caring, and positive volunteers since.
Roy has been involved in nearly every facet of QMUNITY, ranging from his former roles as a board member to coordinating same-sex marriage ceremonies. Even with his many roles, Roy has always remained committed to the services he provides in Resource Reception, where he has consistently and graciously assisted vulnerable clients with crisis situations for more than a decade. His extensive experience offering peer support over the years has allowed him to give outstanding, thorough referrals to hundreds of QMUNITY clients. In short, Roy has brought incredible integrity, kindness, and commitment to all of his roles at QMUNITY.
In addition to Roy’s regular, ongoing commitments to QMUNITY, he also acts as a facilitator at Saint Paul’s Hospital and helps coordinate the ScotiaBank Run and Vancouver Sun Run.
Thank you, Roy, for your continued dedication, wisdom, and compassion. You are a role model for all of us here at QMUNITY, and we look forward to continuing to learn from your example.
Volunteer of the Month – September 2013
QMUNITY would like to recognize Vincent Wheeler for his decade long service and commitment to our various programs.
Vincent first joined QMUNITY ten-years-ago beginning in our Generations program. There he was paired up with a disabled elder whom he assisted with various daily tasks. After three years in this program he moved into the main QMUNITY office to staff the front desk at Resource Reception. Each week Vincent can be found helping clients find their way to the clinic, answering questions or helping youth find out about drop-in activities.
In addition to volunteering with QMUNITY, Vincent can also be found at Tourism Vancouver welcoming visitors to our beautiful city. Prior to this he was a long-time volunteer in the Downtown Eastside, handing out meals and blankets with the Sisters of Atonement. Also in the DTES Vincent used his nursing background to help those at Mary’s Place, a hospice for terminally ill people.
When Vincent is not volunteering he can be found catching films at the VQFF or the VIFF. He is also a regular attendee of Gen Yoga here at QMUNITY and enjoys line dancing with his partner of 30 years, Peter. Together they have travelled to over 100 countries, including taking a ship around the world!
Thank you, Vincent! Your commitment and dedication serve as a wonderful example of the capacity for each of us to give back.
Volunteer of the Month – August 2013
QMUNITY would like to recognize Lisa Salazar for her on-going commitment and support for various QMUNITY programs.
Lisa first joined QMUNITY in 2011 as a Graphic Design Volunteer and later stepped into the role of a Queer Competency Training Facilitator. Over the years she has made a profound impact on QMUNITY and on the greater queer community by acting as an educator and advocate for trans* people. Lisa is well known for her caring and supportive ear for all those around her.
In addition to volunteering with QMUNITY, Lisa self-published her autobiography titled “Transparently: Behind the Scenes of a Good Life”. This book has inspired people from around the world to contact Lisa for support and information on the Trans* community and available resources.
As a result of the profound response from her book Lisa has decided to pursue a Masters in Theology so that she can have a greater impact in the lives of others. She specifically chose theological studies as she comes from a strong faith background. She herself struggled with aligning her trans identity with her Christian values. It is her hope that she can use her journey to support and motivate other queer and trans* people.
Thank you, Lisa! Your positive attitude and willingness to always go above and beyond is a constant reminder that one individual can make a difference for many. We look forward to working with you for many years to come!
Volunteer of the Month – July 2013
QMUNITY would like to recognize Greer Hinton for her commitment, passion and dedication as a Gab Youth Volunteer.
Three years ago Greer attended The Day Against Hate Crime at Vancouver City Hall and was so moved by the presentations from various community members that she made a personal commitment to get more involved with the local queer community. She has been volunteering with Gab Youth ever since.
In addition to providing support and helping to organize the various drop-ins for our youth she has also helped out in resource reception, and with various projects QMUNITY has undertaken during her time here. Last year she spearheaded the campaign to ensure that Gab was able to march in Vancouver’s Pride Parade.
When Greer isn’t at QMUNITY she can be found volunteering in the Downtown Eastside teaching English at the UBC Learning Exchange or volunteering as the Transportation Coordinator and the Games/Activities Assistant for the Fillmore Foundation. As if that weren’t enough, she just completed her first ever marathon. Way to go!
Greer is currently working towards her goal of becoming a police office. She is a regular member of the Vancouver Police Department’s Citizen’s Crime Watch, a volunteer driven initiative to assist the police in identifying illegal activities.
Thank you, Greer for your compassion and enthusiasm for queer youth.
Volunteer of the Month – June 2013
QMUNITY would like to recognize Michelle Haywood-Farmer for her devotion and commitment in providing quality services for LGBT* seniors through her volunteerism with our Generations program.
Michelle began her time at QMUNITY nearly one year ago as a practicum student from the UBC School of Social Work. She has remained with QMUNITY as a volunteer because she is inspired by the projects she is tasked with: (1) a thorough review of current available data to provide a conservative estimate of the number of LGBT* seniors housed in assisted living and care facilities; and (2) an electronic resource package tailored to the needs of LGBT* seniors entering care.
After 6 months of exhaustive research, the data she has compiled suggests that the current national Canadian self-report statistic of 2% associated with “LGB” populations is inaccurate and that, in fact, the International non-weighted average of 5.79% LGBT* populations is a more reasonable conservative estimate. Her research further suggests that this average is extremely conservative when applied to metropolitan LGBT* populations highlighting the need for additional academic research and funding in major metropolitan areas like Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. Her work is an important contribution in the discussion of how to best plan for – and to meet – the needs of LGBT* seniors as they shift from independent into assisted living. Michelle is especially passionate about ensuring that queer seniors are able to live freely and express their identities safely no matter where they are living.
Although her practicum finished a couple months back, she still devotes much of her time to the Generations program – 64 hours in May alone! She does this while co-parenting her three-year old daughter and studying full-time at UBC. If that weren’t enough, Michelle is an avid squash player who can regularly be found at the Denman Fitness courts.
Thank you, Michelle for your tireless efforts in ensuring that we will all age with the dignity and respect that we deserve.
Volunteer of the Month – May 2013
QMUNITY would like to recognize Karen McCormick for her friendliness, commitment, and compassion as a Resource Reception volunteer.
Karen first joined QMUNITY in March of 2012 because she was considering a career change from her profession as a chef in a popular restaurant to working in the non-profit sector. Over the last year she has made a profound impact on QMUNITY and on the greater queer community by acting as a skilled front-line worker, responding to phone calls, emails, and in-person inquiries from those in need of help. On the Resource Reception team, Karen is well known for her outgoing personality, her infectious laugh, and for her willingness to always go the extra mile to help everyone she meets.
In addition to volunteering at Resource Reception, Karen is the founder and organiser of her own meet-up group called Out in White Rock which began in June of 2012. Since starting Out in White Rock the group has grown to have an average of 10-15 people at eat meet-up and over 150 likes on Facebook – all of which is a testament to Karen’s hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm. One day, Karen hopes to be able to operate a satellite QMUNITY office outside of Vancouver to provide resources for surrounding communities.
Thank you, Karen! Your positive attitude and willingness to always go above and beyond is a constant reminder that one individual can make a difference for many. We look forward to working with you for many years to come!
Volunteer of the Month – April 2013
QMUNITY recognizes Don for generousity, kindness, and professionalism as our Tax Clinic volunteer.
Since 2007, Don has spearheaded our annual Tax Clinic and uses his expertise to help low income folk navigate their income tax returns. In doing so he has brought in much-needed donations and exposure for QMUNITY, and has received 6 awards from CRA for his outstanding work in this field.
After submitting his first tax return by himself at the age of 16, Don decided that he wanted to help others with this process. Shortly after, Don went on to work for a large national bank where he became the bank’s youngest ever supervisor at 21 years old and has since held several high-level positions.
In addition to Don’s accounting gifts, he is well known as a compassionate listener who takes the time to get to know his clients and the personal issues they face. As a result his clients feel that they are well cared for, and now over 60% of the Tax Clinic clients are multi-year repeat clients. Over the years, Don has grown to call many of these clients friends, and many of them are now QMUNITY donors!
Outside of QMUNITY, Don is well known for his love of cooking, baseball, and travel. Don has been everywhere from the Czech Republic to Venezuela, and we are so lucky that Don chooses to make Vancouver (and QMUNITY) his home.
Thank you, Don. You continually demonstrate to all of us that there is always time to help one more person, and your compassion, spirit, and talent make QMUNITY a better place.
Volunteer of the Month – March 2013
This month, QMUNITY recognizes Roy as one of our most trustworthy, experienced volunteers. Roy began volunteering with QMUNITY’s Resource Reception and Prideline services in 1998 and has remained one of the most dedicated, caring, and positive volunteers since.
Roy has been involved in nearly every facet of QMUNITY, ranging from his former roles as a board member to coordinating same-sex marriage ceremonies. Even with his many roles, Roy has always remained committed to the services he provides in Resource Reception, where he has consistently and graciously assisted vulnerable clients with crisis situations for more than a decade. His extensive experience offering peer support to clients over the years has allowed him to give outstanding, thorough referrals to hundreds of QMUNITY clients. In short, Roy has brought incredible integrity, kindness, and commitment to all of his roles at QMUNITY.
In addition to Roy’s regular, ongoing commitments to QMUNITY, he also acts as a facilitator at Saint Paul’s Hospital and helps coordinate the ScotiaBank Run and Vancouver Sun Run.
Thank you, Roy, for your continued dedication, wisdom, and compassion. You are a role model for all of us here at QMUNITY, and we look forward to continuing to learn from your example here.
QMUNITY recognizes Kevin Lee for his dedication, spirit, and talent as a long-time volunteer for Gab Youth.
Seven years ago Kevin first heard about Gab and decided to contribute however he could to a program that he wishes existed in his youth. Since then, Kevin has the distinction of having known just about every youth worker who has been a part of the program since its inception.
Kevin is known for his kind, energetic personality, and says that his favourite part about working with youth is fostering a trust-filled and welcoming atmosphere.
Whether he is running board games, like Cranium, or listening attentively to youth who need someone to talk to, Kevin is always ready and willing. Furthermore, he finds fulfillment in seeing the youth he works or worked with grow and change over the years.
In addition to his wicked board game and listening skills, Kevin is a multifaceted individual with two degrees in music. Despite that, he hopes to enter medical school to pursue terminal pediatric care. If that weren’t enough, Kevin works as a child, youth and senior program leader, teaches music and performs with Vancouver Academy of Music and Vancouver Opera. Most importantly, he spends time with his lifelong companions the “4 G’s.” When asked if he ever has time to sleep, Kevin joyfully says “I need to schedule that in.”
Thank you, Kevin. Your devotion, positive attitude, and compassion are a reminder to all of us that no matter how busy we are, we can always do more to make this world a better place.
QMUNITY would like to recognize Alan for his long-standing commitment, positive attitude, and compassion as a counsellor and facilitator at QMUNITY. Alan is one of QMUNITY’s longest standing volunteers, having started here as a practicum student in the Counselling Program in 2002, and continues to volunteer his time as a full-fledged counsellor today. In addition to his weekly counselling duties, Alan also volunteers his time to facilitate the Gay and Bisexual Men’s Bereavement Support Group.
After a decade of volunteering, Alan says that one of the things he values most about QMUNITY, and the greater queer community, is the diversity of the people here. He truly embraces the variety of experiences and perspectives of all clients and volunteers, and uses his wealth of knowledge to create an open, accepting space where everyone can be themselves. When he is not skiing or making chicken paprikash, Alan dedicates himself to making his clients and his peers feel heard, and consistently demonstrates great patience and thoughtfulness in all of his work.
Thank you, Alan. Your expertise, kind demeanour, and dedication are an inspiration to all of us, and we look forward to many more years with you!
QMUNITY would like to recognize Maureen for her compassion, commitment, and warmth as a group facilitator. Maureen donates her time to run the Dear John, I love Jane group every two weeks and has been doing so since May of 2011.
Maureen takes pride in creating safe, supportive spaces where group members can connect and share in a non-judgemental environment. Whether she is spearheading group activities like rock-climbing, or providing peer support to those in need, Maureen is a superb and attentive listener, who believes in fostering a sense of community and belonging for all attendees.
With a background as a yoga teacher, Maureen brings with her knowledge of care, consistency, and healing to her work as a facilitator, which is why so many of the women who attend Maureen’s group have called her “dedicated,” “warm,” and “encouraging.”
Thank you, Maureen. You are a constant reminder of the importance of inclusive communities, and how we can create these communities wherever we are.
We recognize Alice and Anna for their incredible work in our Out on the Shelves Library. Over the last year and a half they have turned a disorganized pile of donated books into a lending library, with an online catalog, blog and a welcoming, inclusive space for study, meeting and events!
Both Anna and Alice have been leading examples of dedication, reliability and initiating change. The challenges presented to them when arriving at our Library were quickly turned into opportunities for innovation and creativity. From hauling the door back and forth down the street to create a drop box, to sorting and labeling thousands of books in a customized and meaningful way- they have made this a real and user-friendly resource. In their own words: “ we wanted this space to be for the community, not just a space for books as the traditional ‘library’, but somewhere that people can feel they belong, browse, do work or listen to a performer and hear a lecture”- and that’s exactly what they’ve done!
Thank you Anna and Alice, you’ve worked together so closely on this project for 18 months and set in motion a resource that will impact people lives for a long time to come.
We recognize Ron for his dedicated and meaningful volunteering across many areas within QMUNITY.
Ron is one of our counselling team members who have given many hours of time offering free and professional counselling to clients within the program. Ron has a keen sense of moving forward, continually looking to improve where the world is asking for it.
Ron spearheaded the process of doubling our counselling capacity by completely refurbishing new offices at our QMUNITY location. From re-surfacing walls to sourcing donations and sewing cushions, he committed to creating warm and inviting spaces for our clients – and he delivered!
Ron is multifaceted and has also donated time and skills creating graphics for use in this newsletter, signage and website content. Some might say a Renaissance man, and although it’s true, the more you get to know Ron, the more you learn that he is a kid at heart, who is unselfishly looking for ways to make the world an easier and brighter place to live. His willingness to pitch in on many levels shows his dedication to the queer community and to honouring what he values.
Thank you Ron, for all the ways you make a difference in the lives of us here at QMUNITY, and the world you walk through.
QMUNITY recognizes nanci blu both for her significant contributions to the operations of our organization and her strong commitment to the values and mandate of QMUNITY.
nanci has become an indispensable part of our Resource Reception team. When asked about her time as ‘Receptionist Extraordinaire’ she quips with a smile: this is what I want to be when I grow up.
nanci describes her personal philosophy: I am about self-expansion and identity, it all comes down to identity. Although claiming to come “from nowhere” due to an air force family upbringing, nanci calls her spot behind the desk at QMUNITY home. She shares how QMUNITY was the first place where how she felt on the inside began to be reflected in the world around her – a powerful catalyst for further growth and transformations – all of which nanci tackles with courage, thought-forwardness and her signature witty humour.
Her unique and creative perspectives come through in a discussion about life and how it all works: it’s like making hollandaise sauce, one must emulsify the parts that seemingly do not go together on their own – and remember… (she says with a twinkle in her eye) …the secret to keeping them together, in that lovely emulsion, is to always keep it in motion.
Perhaps this explains why nanci can be found in so many roles: at the resource reception desk, at early morning and late night fundraising events, in front of the camera for meaningful conversations, and in group facilitation supporting others to create identity. And this is just her volunteering life.
What does she dream of? I used to create dreams about the future, but more so than ever, this (holding her hands open and outward), all of this around me is what I dream of. If I can contribute meaningfully to the human experience and I know I’m doing what I can and that I am heard, that’s all I dream of now – and I’m living it.
What is nanci’s message to our community? This isn’t just about sexuality, it’s about identity – transcending queerness to get to and create from humanness.
Thank you wholeheartedly nanci, yes for all that you do, but mostly for who you are.