For years, Joanne Kaattari was as involved with the Society as she could be without an official HSC Chapter near her. She became a monthly donor, followed the Society on social media and kept updated on the latest HD news. But she still felt like she could be doing something more.
Joanne decided to get involved with the Toronto Chapter – a group that is two hours away from her home in Barrie, Ontario. Joanne knew it would be difficult to participate in face-to-face meetings, though, so she instead volunteers virtually.
“I needed a way to give back more, but that still could accommodate my schedule,” says Joanne. “Volunteering virtually does that!”
Joanne contributes to the group by co-managing the Toronto Chapter’s active Facebook page with another volunteer. She will soon be an editor on the Chapter’s website as well. Joanne also participates in Chapter Executive meetings, when they are held by conference call.
“The Toronto Chapter is a very strategic group,” she says. “They want to improve their online presence. And I want to help do that!”
Working with social media as part of her job has helped Joanne be prepared for this role. But she finds she is gaining skills from her volunteer position, too. She is learning about social media analytics, event creation and demographics, while also learning more about HD for herself.
“I get to research to find good stories and articles for the Chapter’s Facebook account,” she says. “I really am learning more about HD in general.”
And while most of Joanne’s volunteering is done online, she is also helping offline when she can by attending Toronto Chapter events whenever possible. Joanne is also organizing a small, local event, the Spring Wildflower Walk, with Simcoe Muskoka Huntington Volunteers. The Wildflower Walk will be held in Barrie on May 16.
“Volunteering with the Chapter has given me a lot of inspiration,” says Joanne. “They are such an extraordinary group of people. It really helps me to gain perspective on my own challenges, to help out this community.”
For Joanne, she sees volunteering as an easy way to help and really believes that you get as much – even more – than what you give.
“There are many more ways to get involved than people think,” says Joanne. “And it is so important to get involved. I know there are families struggling with HD out there and the more connections and support that can be created, the better. I know it is worth it.”
National Volunteer Week is April 15-21. We are taking the time to celebrate and thank all of our dedicated volunteers in the HD community! We appreciate the contributions of time and effort from all of our incredible volunteers.