Serenity Renewal Volunteers Elizabeth Wilson (left) and Donna Neron.

By Michelle Tasker, Volunteer Coordinator & Outreach Liaison, Serenity Renewal for Families

According to Volunteer Ottawa, volunteering “promotes mental and physical health.” Volunteering also offers opportunities to meet new people, learn new skills and have a direct impact on your community. Volunteering for a non-profit organization offers a unique win-win-win situation. The charity wins, the volunteer wins and most importantly the clients we serve win.

The majority of non-profits in our city are small and many rely heavily on volunteers to provide their essential services. With limited resources and an increasingly large demographic to serve, Serenity Renewal for Families (SRF) could not operate, without the seventy odd volunteers who selflessly contribute to our organization annually. We provide counselling and educational programs to individuals and families adversely affected by addiction. With the majority of our clients unable to pay our suggested fees, we simply could not make the math work without volunteer assistance.

Elizabeth Wilson is an Alta Vista resident and has been volunteering at Serenity Renewal for Families longer than any volunteer. Elizabeth first heard about SRF over twenty years ago at St. Peter’s Parish. She started her volunteer tenure by greeting people at reception and hospitality, before becoming a mainstay in our kitchen. Elizabeth has never left and her husband, James, often volunteers at special events. “I love it, and the people who work here are fabulous,” says Elizabeth. “I learn from each one of them how to be a better person. It’s the only kitchen where there’s peace and happiness!” Elizabeth was lovingly nicknamed The Machine, when she volunteered over 500 hours in one calendar year.

Many people are hesitant to volunteer because they are concerned that the organization will expect a long-term commitment, regular hours or a strict schedule. Family commitments, health issues and “life” often interfere with the best of intentions to volunteer. For many non-profits, especially smaller ones like ours, none of these concerns are a barrier to becoming involved. There are so many opportunities, from greeting people at reception to preparing lunch for participants of our educational workshops to coming in for an hour or two to assist with a special event or one our fundraising campaigns.

Donna Neron is one of our newest volunteers. She started volunteering in February, 2018. Donna has known about Serenity Renewal for Families for a long time, as her husband Marcel reached out for help over twenty years ago when he wanted to stop drinking. The counselling staff referred him to an inpatient treatment center and offered continued support when he came back. Over the years, Marcel has returned to Serenity Renewal for Families to meet with a counsellor or to take workshops. He is still sober.

Donna volunteers in the office at reception one half day per week. “I volunteer because I haven’t been able to work for 24 years due to a chronic illness, and I always missed working full time,” she says. “Volunteering allows me to work the number of hours I am able to and, if needed, change my hours around. Serenity Renewal is a wonderful place to work. The staff is amazing …. I enjoy working with the staff and also the clients SRF serves.”

If you are thinking about volunteering, take a chance! There are many worthy non-profits in our community doing vital work that could benefit from your expertise and assistance. Many non-profits hold information sessions, as we do every month, or will meet with you one-on-one before you are asked to commit. We hope to see you volunteering soon!

Michelle Tasker is the Volunteer Coordinator and Outreach Liaison for Serenity Renewal for Families, an Alta Vista Charity that assists families affected by addiction and other impactful issues. To donate to families needing assistance or to find out more about volunteering, call 613-523-5143 or visit