The theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week(April 18-24)  is The Value of One, The Power of Many. Those words carry a sentiment that is deeply engrained in the United Way Centraide mission. They reflect the awe-inspiring acts of kindness by millions of individuals and the magic that happens when we work together towards a common purpose.

During National Volunteer Week, United Way Centraide Canada and its members across the country celebrate the incredible value that individual volunteer contributions make toward improving lives in local communities.

Bertha is building community and giving back with the help of United Way.

Bertha is building community and giving back with the help of United Way.

Meet Bertha, a United Way Centraide volunteer for whom giving back is a family tradition.

“Like a lot of people, the reason I got involved with United Way was my family. I was born in India, but we moved to Saudi Arabia when I was four, then moved to Calgary when I was 10.

Regardless of where we were, my parents have always been philanthropic—my dad is the first one to step up when new families move here, and my mom set a great example too. Giving back was just something my family did.

Growing up, I could see the impact my parents were having and how they supported each other in making a difference.  Even now, we’ll be out, and people will come up to say how much my family has helped them. That inspired me and I started to get more involved, too.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to get involved in a United Way campaign. My company has a long relationship with United Way, so a few years ago, I started working on our end-of-year fundraiser. That allowed me to meet more people in the organization and inspired me to keep volunteering even after our office fundraiser wrapped up. I love that United Way brings people together so they can pool resources and knowledge and make the best use of our donations.

That sense of connection is what most attracted me to United Way. Honestly, I feel like some of the people that I’ve met through volunteering are actual friends, not just the work colleagues we may have started as. I feel like I’m slowly starting to build connections the same way my dad always has. And it’s not just within Calgary or within my industry. It’s more wide-reaching than that.

During the pandemic, I thought a lot about my skills and my purpose. I realized I am a people connector—I love making connections, I love interacting with people. Soft skills are my strength. I began to feel like everything that I’ve been doing so far has led me to this work.”