Volunteer Spotlight: Q&A with Odette Bourgeois, admin volunteer

British Columbia

NVW 2023 odette bourgeois

Many people associate volunteering with being an event-day volunteer or facilitating a program but not many are aware of administrative volunteer positions. These positions are crucial to the success of organizations like the Alzheimer Society of B.C. One such volunteer is Odette Bourgeois. Odette works with the Society's database to ensure that our records are up to date, ensuring people living with dementia and caregivers can receive the support they need. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Odette and ask her some questions about herself and her more than a decade of volunteer work with the Society. 

Tell us a little about yourself.  

I'm currently working freelance from my home office and live in the beautiful neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant in Vancouver. My daily hobbies include using Duolingo to improve my Spanish language skills, attending Aquafit classes, and traveling as much as I can. I'm also very passionate about cats and enjoy feeding strays along the beach while on vacation. Additionally, I love being in warm salted water and taking underwater photos of ocean life. 

When did you first get involved with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and what roles have you had?  

I believe I first connected with the Society in 2010 through attending education sessions and then a support group for adult children whose parents were living with dementia. Naturally the next step for me was volunteering as an administrative assistant, first at a resource centre, then at the provincial office and now virtually from home. Suddenly it’s 2023 and I’ve been volunteering for over 10 years!  

What attracted you to the Alzheimer Society of B.C.'s cause? 

My mother and father, who are now both deceased, were diagnosed with dementia. If they had never been diagnosed, I’d still be walking along uninformed about the disease and the Society.  

What has been one of your favorite volunteer moments or experiences with the Society?  

One of my favorite volunteer moments was when my Tuesday shifts in the office coincided with a support group for people in the early stages of dementia. I loved spending time with these courageous individuals and seeing their smiles. It was inspiring to witness their strength. 

What was your training experience like with the Society, particularly the virtual training modules?  

The virtual training modules were fairly quick and easy but also thorough and informative. Being able to take the modules at my own pace and review them if needed has been very helpful. 

What do you think about the Society's hybrid model of volunteering, from in-person to also volunteering online? 

The hybrid model works very well for me. Volunteering from home saves me travel time to the office and allows me to do laundry on my volunteering day. It's also nice to go into the office every so often and be with the team in person. 

What motivates you to stay involved with the Alzheimer Society of B.C.?  

Witnessing the growth and hard work of the Society is inspiring to me and aligns with my own journey in the world. I have built connections with others on the dementia journey and it feels fulfilling to help and support them. 

Finally, do you have a message to share with people who are considering volunteering with the Alzheimer Society of B.C.?  

I have spent a lot of time alone in my own head and inside my house these past three years. Mostly I felt grateful and in awe how the world came together to help and protect each other. From that came the realization that our purpose, as human beings, is to help each other through life. Volunteering with the Society certainly accomplishes that purpose! 

The Society depends on the generosity of its volunteers to provide vital services to people living with dementia and their families, and we are always looking for more dedicated individuals to join the team. If you are interested in exploring the possibility of becoming an admin volunteer, or any other type of volunteer with the Society you can visit alzbc.org/volunteer.