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Meet Our Team: Patricia Knycha

Posted By Roxanne English, Community Engagement Assistant, March 6, 2017
Updated: March 1, 2017

Volunteer Toronto staff 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

This may surprise you but Volunteer Toronto doesn't run itself (insert gasp here!). As Canada's largest volunteer centre, we operate on the people power of 8 full-time staff, 5 contract staff, 60 + volunteers and an abundance of passion.

Our team comes from places all over the country and the world; Vancouver, PEI, England, Sri Lanka, USA, Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada to name a few. Each one of us draws from our own unique experiences and contributes our skills in the hopes of building a more caring city.

So far, we have featured: 

Camara Chambers,
Director of Community Engagement

Our Grassroots Growth team

Melina Condren,
Director of Engaging Organizations

Kelly DeVries,
Community Engagement Coordinator

Sammy Feilchenfeld,
Training Coordinator

David Allen,
Executive Director

Kasandra James
Subscriptions Coordinator

Niranjala Mariathas,
Operations Manager

And our final feature...our Senior Bookkeeper!

 

 Pat Knycha
Pat Knycha

WHO: Pat Knycha

ROLE: Senior Bookkeeper

# OF YEARS AT VT: Almost 5 years

PLACE OF BIRTH: Hamilton, Ontario

FAVOURITE SONG: "Love Me Tender" by Elvis Presley

FAVOURITE QUOTE: 

Live. Love. Laugh.

 

 

 

 

What do you do at Volunteer Toronto? 

I ensure the financial well-being of Volunteer Toronto through the maintenance of complete accounting records of all financial transactions making sure they remain in harmony with appropriate accounting procedures.

 Pat at desk

 

 


What do you like most about your job?

What first interested me in working for Volunteer Toronto would have to be when I read their mission statement. There is so much to admire about the process Volunteer Toronto takes to guide Torontonians to their dream volunteer position, and I’m glad to be part of the team. Also I love working with numbers!

 

Calculator

 

What was your most enjoyable volunteer experience?

Studying for my CGA (Certified General Account) I got exposed to the volunteer sector within the organization. I decided the best option for me would be to volunteer to prepare tax returns at a low income senior’s retirement home. It was very humbling. From that experience I decided to continue helping people learn about finances and how they can become financially secure.

 

What's one of your favourite hobbies most people don't know about?

For about a year and a half now I have been an avid Salsa dancer. Some of my go to spots include “Fregata Restaurant and Lounge” and my go to spot “Dovercourt House.”

 

Salsa Dancing

 

Of all your favourite foods, which is one that you would find hardest to give up for the rest of your life and why?

Apples...they are crunchy and sweet and so good for you!

 Apples

 

What's the most unusual item in your desk drawer?

European Dark Chocolate

 

Roxanne EnglishRoxanne English supports Volunteer Toronto’s community outreach by coordinating events, delivering presentations on how to volunteer, and representing Volunteer Toronto at events across this city. With Roxanne’s help, we’ll be able to provide more people with information about volunteering in Toronto.

Tags:  Accounting  Meet our Team  Volunteer Toronto Staff 

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Meet Our Team: David Allen

Posted By Roxanne English, Community Engagement Assistant, November 14, 2016
Updated: November 11, 2016

 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

This may surprise you but Volunteer Toronto doesn't run itself (insert gasp here!). As Canada's largest volunteer centre, we operate on the people power of 8 full-time staff, 5 contract staff, 60 + volunteers and an abundance of passion.

Our team comes from places all over the country and the world; Vancouver, PEI, England, Sri Lanka, USA, Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada to name a few. Each one of us draws from our own unique experiences and contributes our skills in the hopes of building a more caring city.

So far, we have featured Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement, our entire Grassroots Growth team, Director of Engaging Organizations, Melina Condren, Kelly DeVries, Community Engagement Coordinator and Sammy Feilchenfeld, our Training Coordinator. 

Next up... our Executive Director!

 
 David Allen

WHO: David Allen

ROLE: Executive Director

# OF YEARS AT VT: About 3

PLACE OF BIRTH: Toronto, Ontario

FAVOURITE SONG: "Kiss from a Rose" by Seal

FAVOURITE QUOTE: 

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak: courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." - Winston Churchill

 

What do you do at Volunteer Toronto? 

I oversee the day-to-day operations of Volunteer Toronto including program delivery, financial control, human resources, funder relations and compliance with legislation. I also work with the Board of Directors in setting policy and strategic direction for the organization

 

 

What do you like most about your job?

Working with young, energetic staff. They bring to the workplace extraordinary creativity, teamwork and technological know-how. I am constantly learning from them.

 

 

What was your most enjoyable volunteer experience?

I would regularly visit shut-ins on behalf of my church. Social interaction is important to people as they age and lose mobility. It keeps them engaged in the community. I love hearing their stories of yesteryear and receiving their sage advice.

 

What's one of your hidden talents most people don't know about?

I like to sing. In my youth I performed lead roles in many musical theatre productions and choirs.

 

Of all your favourite foods, which is one that you would find hardest to give up for the rest of your life and why?

I am embarrassed to say that I could not do without sugar. I love sweets, especially real maple syrup and Hershey candy cane kisses.


 

 

 

What's the most unusual item in your desk drawer?

Despite today's paperless high tech world, I prefer to work with hard copies. In my desk drawer you will find well-used reference books such as the Yellow Pages Directory, Oxford Dictionary and Roget's Thesaurus. You'll also find stacks of printed documents waiting to be filed.

 

 

Roxanne EnglishRoxanne English supports Volunteer Toronto’s community outreach by coordinating events, delivering presentations on how to volunteer, and representing Volunteer Toronto at events across this city. With Roxanne’s help, we’ll be able to provide more people with information about volunteering in Toronto.

Tags:  avid Allen Executive Director  avid Allen Volunteer Toronto  ho is David Allen?  Volunteer Toronto Staff 

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Meet Our Team: Kelly DeVries

Posted By Roxanne English, Community Engagement Assistant, September 5, 2016
Updated: September 2, 2016

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

This may surprise you but Volunteer Toronto doesn't run itself (insert gasp here!). As Canada's largest volunteer centre, we operate on the people power of 8 full-time staff, 5 contract staff, 60 + volunteers and an abundance of passion.  

Our team comes from places all over the country and the world; Winnipeg, PEI, England, Sri Lanka, USA and Grenada to name a few. Each one of us draws from our own unique experiences and contributes our skills in the hopes of building a more caring city. 

So far we have featured Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement, our Grassroots Growth team, and our Director of Engaging Organizations, Melina Condren. 

Next up... our Community Engagement Coordinator!


 

WHO: Kelly DeVries

ROLE: Community Engagement Coordinator

# YEARS AT VT: 1

PLACE OF BIRTH: Oakville, Ontario

FAVOURITE SONG: There is nothing like 90s R&B!

 

What do you do at Volunteer Toronto?

My main focus is on our outreach to members of the public. Overseeing an amazing team of staff and volunteers, we focus on educating people about volunteering and empowering and motivating them to get started! I seek to ensure that people have the information and resources they need to volunteer. This happens through our Referral Services where people can meet one-on-one to have their questions answered; our Outreach presentations and events where we go into the community and talk to folks about volunteering and our blog and newsletter.

 

Kelly DeVries - Volunteer Toronto 

 Kelly prepping organizations for our Senior's Fair

 

 

What do you like most about your job?

 

I love working with volunteers! The volunteers I have the pleasure of working with bring such unique skills, enthusiasm and creativity to their roles. I love seeing people develop and explore themselves while volunteering. I've seen first-hand the impact volunteering has on the organization, clientele and on the volunteer themselves. One of my favourite things is to have an idea of tasks that need to be done in the Community Engagement Department, and then explore with a volunteer how their skills and experience can take that task to the next level. Volunteers are amazing!


  Kelly chatting with volunteers at the Dance Marathon

Kelly chatting with volunteers at the Dance Marathon

 

What was your most enjoyable volunteer experience?

When I first moved to Toronto, I was looking to make connections and friends in the city. I started volunteering for special events with the 519 Church Street Community Centre. These special events included fundraisers, an LGBTQ Volunteer Fair and the Pride Beer Garden. It was an amazing way to meet new people, explore resources the across the city and make connections. Also it was simply fun to be involved in such a vibrant hub and celebrate the diversity of people in Toronto!

 

What's one of your hidden talents most people don't know about?

One of my favourite things about the summertime is playing on my flag football team with Flags of Glory. I've made some of my best friends in the city through this league. It is so much fun! This year I'm the captain of the team which is amazing!


Kelly playing football

Kelly catching a football like a pro!

 

Of all your favourite foods, which is one that you would find hardest to give up for the rest of your life and why?

I absolutely love dill pickles. I think they are the tastiest thing ever. I cannot imagine having to give them up for the rest of my life! I have trouble going a week without eating several.

 

What's the most unusual item in your desk drawer?

Double salted licorice is a Dutch treat from my childhood. It has a very unique taste! I've never met someone who didn't grow up eating who hasn't spit it out at first try :) Delicious!

  

Kelly Desk Drawer 

Kelly's desk drawer


Stay tuned in October for our next feature!

Roxanne EnglishRoxanne English supports Volunteer Toronto’s community outreach by coordinating events, delivering presentations on how to volunteer, and representing Volunteer Toronto at events across this city. With Roxanne’s help, we’ll be able to provide more people with information about volunteering in Toronto.

Tags:  Kelly DeVries  Staff at VT  Volunteer Toronto staff  Who works at Volunteer Toronto 

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Meet Our Team: Melina Condren

Posted By Roxanne English, Community Engagement Assistant, August 8, 2016
Updated: August 4, 2016

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

This may surprise you but Volunteer Toronto doesn't run itself (insert gasp here!). As Canada's largest volunteer centre, we operate on the people power of 8 full-time staff, 5 contract staff, 60 + volunteers and an abundance of passion.  

Our team comes from places all over the country and the world; Winnipeg, PEI, England, Sri Lanka, USA and Grenada to name a few. Each one of us draws from our own unique experiences and contributes our skills in the hopes of building a more caring city. 

So far we have featured Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement as well as our Grassroots Growth team. 

Next up... our Director of Community Engagement


 

WHO: Melina Condren

ROLE: Director of Engaging Organizations

# YEARS AT VT: 3

PLACE OF BIRTH: Penetanguishene, Ontario

FAVOURITE SONG: The soundtrack to the musical "Hamilton"

 

What do you do at Volunteer Toronto?

I oversee all of Volunteer Toronto’s services for non-profits, including our Training and Subscriptions programs and our Grassroots Growth project. Most of my time is spent supervising staff, and taking care of the planning, budgeting and program evaluation for my programs and projects. I also come up with ideas for new services, lead research projects, write grant proposals, and report to funders.

 

Melina Condren - Volunteer Toronto 

 Melina, leading a Workshop at VECTor 2015

 

 

What do you like most about your job?

 

I love being behind the scenes working on different programs and projects. I get to be involved in everything Volunteer Toronto does for non-profits; whether it’s coming up with a plan to revamp one of our services or making sure one of our staff members has the support they need to get their job done, I’m in the background making sure we're doing the best work we can.


  Melina in team meeting

Melina in team meeting

 

What was your most enjoyable volunteer experience?

One volunteer experience that stands out for me was helping out with program evaluation at the Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre. I was fresh out of graduate school, and I’d been doing a lot of projects that were very theoretical and academic. Volunteering for the DPNCHC was one of the first opportunities I had to apply some of my research skills outside of academia. I felt like it was actually going to make a difference to the organization and have an effect on the people in the program, which was incredibly rewarding for me.

 

What's one of your hidden talents most people don't know about?

Gardening. I’m growing ten types of vegetables and eight types of herbs at the moment, and I’m hoping to expand soon. I’ve even got a system so that I can keep gardening during the winter, keeping everything alive using cold frames, which basically turn my garden into a tiny greenhouse.


Melina Condren Gardening

Melina gardening

 

Of all your favourite foods, which is one that you would find hardest to give up for the rest of your life and why?

I really love pie. It's a staple of my family's celebrations, either as a dessert or as a savoury main dish, so I would really miss it if I could never eat it again!

 

What's the most unusual item in your desk drawer?

A lint brush...My desk drawers are pretty boring. It’s impossible for me to show up for work without being covered in cat hair.

  

Melina Desk Drawer 

Melina's desk drawer


Stay tuned in September for our next feature!

Roxanne EnglishRoxanne English supports Volunteer Toronto’s community outreach by coordinating events, delivering presentations on how to volunteer, and representing Volunteer Toronto at events across this city. With Roxanne’s help, we’ll be able to provide more people with information about volunteering in Toronto.

Tags:  Volunteer Toronto Staff 

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Meet Our Team: Claire, Louroz & Jenn

Posted By Roxanne English, Community Engagement Assistant, July 4, 2016
Updated: June 30, 2016

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Here at Volunteer Toronto we are pleased to introduce our Grassroots Growth Project team, who have been working so hard to serve individuals involved in volunteer-run non-profit organizations in Ontario. By divvying up responsibilities Claire, Jenn and Louroz are able to help non-profits who are looking for resources to help them achieve their individual missions and grow their organizations.

Introducing our Grassroots Growth Team!

 


Claire McWatt - Volunteer Toronto

WHO: Claire McWatt 

ROLE: Project Coordinator

# YEARS AT VT: 1 year 3 months

PLACE OF BIRTH: Toronto, Ontario

FAVOURITE FOOD: Sushi

WHAT DO YOU DO AT VT? As Project Coordinator, I oversee the development of the Grassroots Growth Project. I do a bit of everything, from resource development, to workshop facilitation, to administration and outreach. I also manage project partnerships, and develop the Peer Mentorship program within the platform.

WHO: Louroz Mercader

ROLE: Community Outreach Coordinator

# MONTHS AT VT: 10

PLACE OF BIRTH: Manila, Phillipines

FAVOURITE FOOD: Cookies

WHAT DO YOU DO AT VT? I use my public relations skills to promote awareness of the Grassroots Growth project, find amazing volunteer leaders, and organize workshops and events that support our city's grassroots groups.


 

Louroz Mercader - Volunteer Toronto


Jenn Jozwiak - Volunteer Toronto

 

WHO: Jenn Jozwiak

ROLE: Education Coordinator

# MONTHS AT VT: 9

PLACE OF BIRTH: Winnipeg, Manitoba

FAVOURITE FOOD: Avocado

WHAT DO YOU DO AT VT? With the support of my team, I develop the learning materials for the project. This includes researching, writing, and designing training workshops, printed materials, and online content. I also deliver in-person workshops, which I love because I get to talk to the amazing grassroots organizations!


What do you like most about your job?

CLAIRE: I work with an outstanding team who has helped me develop my volunteer management skills so I can aid so many incredible grassroots groups every day. I am humbled to get a chance to engage change-makers, activists and community builders from all different backgrounds. 


  Claire McWatt - Grassroots Growth

Claire presenting to a room of grassroots leaders

 

What was your most enjoyable volunteer experience?

JENN: Between 2004 and 2010, I organized a volunteer-run horror film festival with some of my friends. It also meant a lot that once the festival was established, it became an incentive for people to get out there and make their own films. Some of the filmmakers who met at our festival formed a collective, and went on to make award-winning movies. We think that’s pretty neat.

Winnipeg Short Film Festival 
Poster from  Jenn's Horror Film Festival

 

What's one of your hidden talents most people don't know about?

LOUROZ: I can lift real heavy things. I hit to the gym at least 5 times a week!


Louroz Mercader playing basketball

Louroz and his muscles

 

 

What's the most unusual item in your desk drawer?

CLAIRE: My desk doesn't have drawers, but I do keep a mini sewing kit on my desk because you never know. I originally brought it for a specific thing, but it stayed because I ended up needing it here and there. Very handy!

Claire McWatt's Sewing Kit

Claire's sewing kit

 

LOUROZ: A paper doll of myself with different matching outfits to suit his mood that my talented friend created for me as a gift.

 Louroz Mercader paper doll
Louroz as a paper doll!

 

JENN: I have an 18” figure of Leatherface from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre next to my computer.



 

 

Stay tuned in August for our next feature!

Roxanne EnglishRoxanne English supports Volunteer Toronto’s community outreach by coordinating events, delivering presentations on how to volunteer, and representing Volunteer Toronto at events across this city. With Roxanne’s help, we’ll be able to provide more people with information about volunteering in Toronto.

Tags:  Charity work  Non-profit staff  Volunteer Toronto Staff  What's it like to work for Volunteer Toronto 

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Meet Our Team: Camara Chambers

Posted By Roxanne English, Community Engagement Assistant, June 13, 2016
Updated: June 13, 2016

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

This may surprise you but Volunteer Toronto doesn't run itself (insert gasp here!). As Canada's largest volunteer centre, we operate on the people power of 8 full-time staff, 5 contract staff, 60 + volunteers and an abundance of passion.  

Our team comes from places all over the country and the world; Winnipeg, PEI, England, Sri Lanka, USA and Grenada to name a few. Each one of us draws from our own unique experiences and contributes our skills in the hopes of building a more caring city. 

In this new monthly blog series, we'd like to give you the opportunity to meet and learn more about some of these people. 

First up...our Director of Community Engagement


 

WHO: Camara Chambers

ROLE: Director of Community Engagement

# YEARS AT VT: 4

PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England

FAVOURITE SONG: Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody"

FAVOURITE PIECE OF ADVICE: “There’s no such thing as can’t.” This is something my mother would always say. You’re only limited by your own beliefs and so the moment you degrade yourself, and tell yourself it’s not possible, then it isn’t. You have just as much ability and potential as anyone else.

 

What do you do at Volunteer Toronto?

I oversee all of the work Volunteer Toronto does to encourage Torontonians to volunteer.  Our Community Engagement team promotes volunteering in the community and provides info and tips on volunteering to make finding the right role easy. My role involves managing the team, our annual plans, campaigns and budgets, writing applications for grants and ensuring we're working as efficiently and effectively as possible.

 

Camara Chambers - Volunteer Toronto 

 Camara, leading one of the first Trailblazer Series

 

 

What do you like most about your job?

 

The variety of my role! It's fun to do a job that uses a wide range of skills like marketing, presenting, supervising staff, writing reports, researching, problem solving, event planning...and many more.


  Camara Chambers at Volunteer Toronto volunteer appreciation

Camara (right) with Youth Auditor Seher (left)
at our volunteer appreciation event 

 

What was your most enjoyable volunteer experience?

My favourite volunteer experience was with a youth drop-in program at St. Felix Centre, a local community centre in downtown Toronto. The program was for children and youth in the local neighbourhood and provided them with a safe space to hang out with their friends on Friday nights. I volunteered there for a year and a half and loved it. The experience was so rewarding and I met some amazing people there who I am still friends with today.

 

What's one of your hidden talents most people don't know about?

I recently started aerial yoga, which is a cross between circus arts and yoga, so that's a secret talent not many people know I have.


Camara Chambers Aerial Yoga

Camara taking part in Aerial Yoga

 

Of all your favourite foods, which is one that you would find hardest to give up for the rest of your life and why?

I love anything with coconut in it, so I'd find that difficult to give up.

 

What's the most unusual item in your desk drawer?

Hemp hearts. I'm a bit of a health food enthusiast and I've recently started eating hemp hearts which are raw shelled hemp seeds. They're tastier than they sound, are great sprinkled on my morning cereal and are full of protein! 

  

Hemp Hearts 

Camara's hemp hearts


Stay tuned in July for our next feature!

Roxanne EnglishRoxanne English supports Volunteer Toronto’s community outreach by coordinating events, delivering presentations on how to volunteer, and representing Volunteer Toronto at events across this city. With Roxanne’s help, we’ll be able to provide more people with information about volunteering in Toronto.

Tags:  Meet the Volunteer Toronto staff  Volunteer Toronto Staff  VT Staff  Who works at Volunteer Toronto 

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