Elevating UHN’s profile: the role of volunteers

Volunteers at University Health Network (UHN) Foundation help to fuel the excellence for which UHN is known. Whether it’s through supporting our health care heroes within and beyond UHN walls, or working tirelessly to help raise funds, their invaluable participation is critical across all fronts.

“Our fundraising volunteers and champions are the engine of our success at UHN Foundation,” says Raj Kothari, Chair, UHN Foundation Board of Directors. “They contribute to our mission in so many ways, especially through their gifts of time, expertise and by bringing us closer to new communities.”

In celebration of Volunteer Week, we checked in with some of UHN Foundation’s dedicated volunteers to understand how they became engaged, what their experiences have involved and why they are fueled to give back.

Meet the following volunteers:

Po-Lin Cheung-Leung, who has volunteered with UHN Foundation’s Fairchild Chinese-Canadian Radiothon since the inaugural event in 2010

Mariam Kubba-Martino and Michael Martino – while Mariam started volunteering in February 2022, her husband Michael has been a volunteer with the UHN Impact Xchange for a year and a half

Anish Taneja, who has volunteered as a member of the UHN Impact Collective since 2019

How did you learn about volunteering at UHN Foundation?

PLCL: I’m a staff member in the library, and my manager suggested I help with the Radiothon as I have the language capacity.

MKM & MM: Michael learned about volunteering through Charity Village. Mariam learned about it from Michael!

AT: I was introduced to the Foundation when my family made a donation in 2016. I thought it was fantastic, and in 2019 I was asked by a close friend to join the Foundation in a formal capacity.

What does volunteering at UHN Foundation entail for you?

MKM & MM: For us, volunteering at UHN entails increasing awareness, promoting and supporting the amazing work UHN does, and spreading joy to the community by celebrating UHN’s achievements.

AT: It involves using my knowledge and network to assist with high-priority areas within the hospitals. Whether that is personally donating, raising funds or simply providing my expertise within certain areas, I try to assist where my skills can provide the most value.

Why is volunteering important to you?

PLCL: I believe the power of sharing and kindness can be contagious. With a little bit of volunteer services, everyone will feel happier and thus live healthier lives.

MKM & MM: Through our lived experience as UHN patients and caregivers, we tremendously appreciate the quality of care delivered by UHN health care workers – the true heroes of everyday life. Volunteering gives us the opportunity to show our gratitude and support, and to give back to the incredible team.

There are plenty of organizations at which you could volunteer. Why do you volunteer at UHN Foundation?

PLCL: We all aim to lead healthy lives. Volunteering with UHN Foundation can promote the awareness of health and wellness, and can raise the importance of health literacy to patients, families, caregivers and communities.

MKM & MM: We strongly believe that the care UHN provides truly makes a positive difference in people’s lives. With Michael being a cardiac patient, the UHN team has been there since day one, looking after his health and well-being in a compassionate and caring way. We volunteer at UHN as a small token of our appreciation and support to the team.

What does this year’s theme – Volunteering is Empathy in Action – mean to you?

MKM & MM: To us, it means the connections we create and foster through our engagement with the community help make it healthier and more compassionate.

AT: Empathy promotes helping behaviours. Many times, people see examples of empathy in our community, smile and think about how they can also help. By doing more, I hope that I’m encouraging others to do the same.

When you reflect on your UHN Foundation volunteering experience, is there a moment, situation or encounter that stands out? If so, what makes it significant?

PLCL: I think of the Radiothon and the smiles and happy faces of donors when they came and dropped off their donation at the walk-in booth. They were so grateful and willing to recount their healing journey at Toronto Western Hospital.

AT: I would have to say the people within the organization are what comes to mind. It is incredible how passionate these groups of individuals are in advancing and innovating within health care. Hearing their stories and experiences about why they are a part of the Foundation encourages me to do more.

If you could tell a person considering volunteering at UHN Foundation one thing, what would it be?

PLCL: Join the team – you can lead a fuller life.

AT: If one person can change the world, imagine what one person can do for UHN.

UHN Foundation thanks all its volunteers for their time, passion, hard work and commitment to UHN’s vision of A Healthier World. Volunteers help to make research, education and the enhancement of patient care possible.

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