What is your role or relationship with CESO?
How long have you been working or volunteering with CESO?
David: 17 years.
Patricia: 18 years.
What motivates you to work or volunteer with CESO?
David: The satisfaction of being able to use my experience and skills to help people from other cultures who are not as fortunate as I am. I cannot place a value on the long-term relationships that have developed over the years. My life has been enriched by my experiences as a volunteer for CESO.
Patricia: The desire to give back and use the skills I’ve learned over the years to help others.
What is your most remarkable experience or memory of CESO?
David: A standout in my mind has been my experience working as a Lead Volunteer Advisor with the Armenian Young Women’s Association. This organization helps prepare young people to be able to participate in the workforce, politics and more.
I saw young women who, when I first met them, lacked social skills and had no opportunity to obtain employment. We introduced then to quilting, and volunteers taught them the required skills. This initiative was useful for raising funds, but equally important was the way these young women blossomed and developed social skills.
AYWA is now flourishing. It has good leadership and does an excellent job of preparing young people to enter the workforce. CESO was able to provide them with assistance in areas such as governance, financial management and fundraising. I continue to maintain contact with the CEO and it makes me so happy to see how they are flourishing.
Patricia: The CIDA representative for Armenia was located in the Canadian Embassy in Moscow. At the end of two assignments in Armenia, one in the north and one in Yerevan, I was asked to come to Moscow to speak to the CIDA representative about my client’s need for funds to bring in gas for their bakery.
I returned to Canada from Moscow on 9/11 and was over the Atlantic when the events occurred. We could not land at Toronto and I had to find my way back from Montreal on a very traumatic day that changed our world.
Economic development is important because…
David: Organizations were struggling financially in every country I have worked in.
Patricia: It is self-sustaining and contributes to the whole community.
What advice would you give other Volunteer Advisors?
David: The years I have spent with CESO have been like a second career. I cannot tell you how much satisfaction I take from sharing skills and seeing organizations grow and mature. An added bonus is the friends I have made from all around the world. My advice to others is to please explore what the role of a CESO volunteer entails and see whether it fits your needs and skills.
Patricia: I would advise them to not make judgements beforehand and to not have any prior expectations. Accept your clients at their current level and be patient.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
David: I would just like to add that when my wife and I look back, we wonder what we would have been doing if we had not found CESO. I have enjoyed completing assignments, but I have taken just as much satisfaction from volunteering in-house in a variety of roles. I enjoy the people I work with and have always felt respected as a volunteer.
Patricia: It would be interesting to revisit old clients to see how they are doing.