National Volunteer Week 2018 – Annie Walker

Name: Annie Walker

Branch: Camp Chief Hector

Position: Mountain Haven Volunteer

Number of Years Volunteered: 8

Number of Volunteer Hours in 2018: 35


How has the nominee been a YMCA Calgary Ambassador?

Annie has been involved as a member of the YMCA community for well over 40 years. Her love of Camp Chief Hector has made her a true promoter of how being in the outdoors, challenging one’s self and being surrounded by role models can be life changing. The Mountain Haven Program has been impacted by Annie’s dedication for over the last twenty years. Mountain Haven provides women and children who have been impacted by domestic violence, with an opportunity to connect, building community and create family memories in the outdoors. Annie has a way of creating a sense of community and empowering the women within a very short time frame. Over the years, it is not uncommon for our partnering agency staff or a returning camper to ask if Annie is at camp.

How does the volunteer engage in the YMCA Calgary Community?

Annie engages with some of our most vulnerable ‘campers’. Right from the moment that the women meet Annie she is working at creating a safe space for the women to feel comfortable for the adventure that has been planned for them. Annie is one of the most non-judgemental, engaging and caring volunteers at camp. Her warmth and genuine care is a key to making the women feel safe; whether it be from assisting the mothers in getting their children comfortable with the camp counsellors, to her encouraging words as the mom’s try the giant swing and right through to leading a gentle session of yoga and breathing.

How has the nominee built positive relationships?

The Camp Chief Hector Mountain Haven program has a limited time to build trusting relationships with the moms and children who attend. Annie volunteers with the complete intention of helping to build memories for the women to feel empowered and reenergized when they take the bus back to Calgary. Her humour and her laughter help to bring the women out of their city comfort zone and put them in a place of wanting to experience the magic of the outdoors. She is simply just amazing; we know that she loves this program.

In what ways has the nominee exceeded the expectations of their role?

Annie is not guided by just one role in Mountain Haven. If she’s sees an opportunity to make the program better for that moment or day she will move into action. For example, on one particular windy and cold afternoon the women expressed how cold they were on the swing. Annie took it upon herself to get the Old Lodge nice and warm, set up yoga matts and run a relaxing session with the moms. The mom’s talked about this for the rest of their weekend. Annie is a mentor to the seasoned Mountain Haven staff and volunteers and she brings a calming energy to the whole program.