Over the last 10 years, I have volunteered in various roles across the organization helping with Year-End Report, Fundraising and Business Development and now have the honour of supporting Sustainable Waterloo Region as a member of the staff team. I love the flexibility of our organization’s volunteer model for providing opportunities to learn new skills, seek fulfillment outside of traditional employment and most importantly for creating a sense of community around the work that we do. 

On the Regional Sustainability Initiative team, we have over 10 volunteers, some of which have been volunteering with the organization since it was founded. Our team’s ability to adapt program delivery for pandemic working conditions wouldn’t have been possible without our volunteers’ dedication. This network and community of like-minded individuals continues to inspire me every single day.

Here are some of the many wonderful contributions our volunteers have made this year:

The Idea Book is an incredible 100+ page PDF resource maintained by volunteer Living Documents Coordinators, Patricia and Nick, which now resides in a searchable online format on MemberLink (our member-only website) thanks to their hard work. Nick has been one of the organization’s longest standing volunteers. He first joined our team in his 4th year of his Environment and Business degree where he chose to do his final project with our program. His class group developed a tool that helped member organizations identify potential projects to improve their organization’s sustainability, this resource would eventually evolve into The Idea Book. Years later, Nick continues to volunteer his time maintaining the project information contained in The Idea Book, helping us ensure the information is credible and serves as a reliable database for members. Nick is also currently supporting the review of our program’s Green Team Guide and will be helping us train a new Living Documents Coordinator to continue evolving member facing resources. 

A special thanks also goes to our Data Management volunteers Amira Musa and Manpreet Dhaliwal for keeping our members informed and engaged through their work on our Member Specific Reports and the Leaderboard. Our Leaderboard, which ranks members throughout the year for completing activities within the program’s milestone framework underwent a significant revamp in 2020. The focus on revising the Leaderboard was to ensure more tangible actions a member takes to improve the sustainability of their operations earns them the most points. Over the years Manpreet has been both a staff and volunteer and has worked diligently to update the Leaderboard scorecard with new points earning opportunities, and integrating our new offering of SDG Progress Tracking into the scorecard. 

Jen Owens is by far our longest standing volunteer in the program, having volunteered with the program for over 10 years. Jen first joined SWR as a volunteer with the motivation of gaining job experience and continued volunteering because her role allows her to continuously learn new things. Jen is the researcher behind our Climate Change Newsletter that is prepared weekly and shared with both our internal team of staff and volunteers but is also made available to member organizations. This newsletter is an amazing summary of Climate Change Media available through credible and reputable media sources. We are so thankful for the diligent and exhaustive efforts of Jen to prepare this newsletter each week; come rain, shine or pandemic, the newsletter is always in our inbox on Sundays. I know I’m not the only one who loves to start their week reading it. Tasha-Leigh is an essential member of our team and easily dedicates upwards of 10 hours per week to her role. She played a critical role in our ability to respond to the impacts of the pandemic on our sustainability reporting and target-setting methodologies. Tasha-Leigh is a PhD student at the University of Waterloo, and when she’s not doing ground-breaking research or collecting gems, she’s reviewing the sustainability data inventories of our 24 Pledging Partners. Tasha-Leigh has an incredible eye for detail and is often the first person on our team to detect a gap in an inventory or an incorrect data point on our graphs. Without her, our year-end reporting process wouldn’t be possible and we have her years of dedication and experience to thank for how efficient and seamless the process feels each year. 

I appreciate each and every one of you. I am so thankful every day for the contributions you make to this team and our mission of improving the sustainability of businesses in Waterloo Region. Without your efforts, none of this would be possible.

Thank you to our team:

  • Roxana Bahrami
  • Nicholas Cloet
  • Manpreet Dhaliwal
  • Anna Fluder
  • Tasha-Leigh Gauthier
  • Patricia Huynh
  • Kathryn Kyrkos
  • Andreas Mertes
  • Jen Owen
  • Amira Musa