After moving from a small town to attend Mohawk College’s Radio Broadcasting program in the late 1990’s, graduate Heather Beale ‘01(nee McClellan) had no intention of moving back home. She recalls telling her mom when returning to Mohawk for her third year, “I’m hoping not to return home. Nothing against you, but I’m hoping to branch out on my own and be my own person.”
Obtaining work after completing a co-op placement at the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton, Heather was approached to work with Doors Open Hamilton as they were interested in having the Centre open to the public for their annual event. This ‘opened a door’, if you will, to many more opportunities in the community. Being a transplant to the city, she quickly found that volunteering allowed her to meet new people and explore different aspects of the city while building a new community for herself.
Throughout the past 15 or so years, Heather has enjoyed many volunteer roles in the Hamilton community, committing her time to a variety of organizations including such large scale events as the Juno Awards, the PanAm Games, and the annual SuperCrawl music and art festival. So when the Vanier Cup was coming to Hamilton in 2016 it’s not a surprise she was recommended for the role of Volunteer Coordinator. The event, run by USports, relies on recruiting local volunteers to ensure the live-to-air event runs smoothly. So when Heather’s name was put forward, she jumped at the chance.
Heather says, that unique experiences from volunteering have helped to build upon her leadership skills. It has also helped her to learn to connect with a variety of people who are involved in the event for their own individual reasons as well as relating to people who have a variety of interests from music to sports. And at events that were live-to-air, like the Vanier Cup and Juno Awards, her experience gave her a deeper understanding of how important it is to plan things down to the millisecond.
Not only does Heather get a lot personally out of her work in the community, but her volunteering has also benefited her career. In the mid-2000s, as a volunteer with the Tourism Hamilton Board of Directors she worked along many well-connected people in the community. From this, she was recommended for an un-posted position at Orlick Industries. Now, nearly 10 years later, Heather is enjoying her position as the Training & Communications Coordinator at Orlick, and recommends to anyone considering it, the value and enjoyment of volunteering.
This originally appeared on the Mohawk Alumni blog on January 19, 2017.