Windmill volunteers share their passion
Published April 20, 2022.
We interviewed three of our wonderful volunteers to learn what motivates them to give their time to support their communities, the benefits they reap and the advice they have for aspiring volunteers.
Miho Donald is a Senior Manager, Operating Change Delivery, at TD Securities and a member of Windmill’s Loan Committee. Our loan committee oversees our loan program, ensuring our clients receive the best service possible.
What have you learned from participating as a member of the Windmill loan committee?
The most amazing learning point is finding out how organizations like Windmill contribute to the success of immigration, not just for the immigrants themselves but for Canada as a whole.
I originally came from a country where immigration policy is extremely conservative, and was always curious what we did in Canada that contributed to our success. Organizations like Windmill help out with financial stability for immigrants in a way that large banks and governments cannot, which is such a crucial part of a sustainable immigration system.
You have a busy life including work, family and many other obligations. Why did you prioritize volunteering with Windmill amongst all your other commitments?
I call Windmill my “Passion Project”. Windmill’s amazing work and the stories I encounter here empower me as a human being, and give me a renewed sense of energy to go back into my daily obligations.
As much as I hope that I am adding value by volunteering for Windmill, I believe that I’m actually the one benefiting by being part of this community!
Volunteers often report enormous benefits from their volunteerism, such as finding it helps them counteract stress and anxiety, and provides a sense of purpose. What benefits have you found from volunteering with Windmill?
When my seven-year-old son and I landed in Canada as immigrants back in 2017, we were helped by an enormous amount of charity and friendship provided by the neighbourhood community. We have since settled in - my son, a happy middle school student, and I am a full-time employee for a large bank. It’s so easy to forget that we didn’t get here alone.
Volunteering with Windmill gives me an opportunity to be grateful to everyone who supported our journey, and to give back to the people who need the same support as we did when we chose Canada as our new home.
John Montalbano is the Principal, Tower Beach Capital Ltd. and serves as Windmill’s Treasurer and Chair of our Finance & Risk Management Committee. In addition, John is raising funds for Windmill’s work in British Columbia through the BC Professional Accreditation Loans for New Canadians (BC PALs) giving circle.
In addition to serving as member of our Board of Directors, as well as various committees, you recently launched a giving circle supporting newcomers in British Columbia - BC PALs for New Canadians. This is in addition to the many other volunteer roles you hold outside of Windmill! What inspired you to create the BC PALs campaign?
I grew up with immigrant parents. While they were not educated, many of our close family friends were. I was struck, at a very young age, how it seemed unfair that new Canadians came to Canada to pursue their dreams, often at Canada’s invitation, only to find they could not afford the first step to reclaiming their professional livelihood, paying for accreditation courses and exams.
As a travelling executive, many years later, I was consistently reminded of such barriers speaking with cab drivers, coffee shop cashiers and many more. As British Columbia is an underserved market for Windmill, I aspired to “kickstart” momentum of our activities in the province by launching BC PALs.
What advice do you have for members of the community who want to volunteer but don’t know where to start?
Start! Volunteerism can take many forms. The first key action item is identifying a cause that speaks to your values. Then, reach out to organizations that serve such interests. Ask them how you can assist them in their activities. It really is that simple.
Studies have shown that volunteering gives a sense of accomplishment and increases feelings of happiness. What has been the impact of volunteering on your life?
As a young child, I was taught volunteerism through my mother. She would take me on March of Dimes walks and we would knock on hundreds of doors asking for dimes. I recall how nerve racking it was knocking on a door and feeling nervous in advance of the door opening. Most interactions were positive and energizing. I feel the same today. I always get nervous before I make a donation request but after, I feel energized.
There is so much positive energy that comes from volunteerism. I also attribute volunteerism for assisting me in building key social skills such as empathy, engagement, losing fear of rejection and developing key leadership skills.
We are now encouraging our two boys to join us in our philanthropic works as well as encouraging them to pursue their own volunteer interests.
Nadia Nembhard-Hunt is a Vice Principal with Ontario’s Durham District School Board and a Windmill alumnus. She has mentored and continues to mentor a number of Windmill clients who have successfully restarted their careers in Canada. Nadia offers her support as an education consultant, coaching newcomers to Canada, especially, those in the field of education.
What inspired you to take on the role of mentor for a current Windmill client?
I have been mentored by several people in the past; professionally and personally, including whilst transitioning to Canada and that benefitted me, immensely. I know that mentorship is a powerful way to help others.
One of the groups needing this the most are individuals who have left their homes, families, friends and need to re-settle in a new place. My current mentee successfully entered her profession in Canada as a teacher with not one but two public school boards.
With my knowledge and experience, as an immigrant, an experienced teacher, and a school administrator, I was able to give my mentee appropriate support that aided her in the application process. My mentee's success definitely inspires me to continue being a mentor and also to provide tips for successful transition via Windmill's newsletter.
Have you learned anything about yourself from volunteering as a mentor?
By mentoring, my strong philosophy about giving back is reaffirmed. My journey and my story can help others, and I will continue to do this.
Volunteers often report enormous benefits from their volunteerism, such as finding it helps them counteract stress and anxiety and provides a sense of purpose. What benefits have you found from volunteering with Windmill?
The number one benefit is the knowledge I gain. I have gained new knowledge about my mentee’s culture and qualifications. In addition, I have kept abreast of developments in my field of study and general issues in Canada as this better equips me to help my mentee.
Thank you so much to all of our wonderful volunteers! If you’d like to learn more about volunteering with Windmill, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.