On August 26, Volunteer Manitoba presented Volunteer Manager, Tracy Laluk, with the Barb Gemmell Catalyst Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management. Tracy has been with St.Amant for 13 years. She has distinguished herself by using innovation and best practices to recruit, retain and recognize volunteers. She plans a yearly volunteer appreciation event, she invites volunteers to spend Christmas dinner with her and her family if they’re celebrating alone, and she advocates for volunteers to have free access to the same corporate training opportunities offered to staff. Recognizing that people with developmental disabilities can see over 800 staff but that many don’t have friends, Tracy developed a match-making program to help people St.Amant supports create meaningful friendships with volunteers.
“I couldn’t do everything I do—let alone win this award—without my team,” says Tracy referring to her staff and the 600 volunteers she manages. “My team is so committed to everything they do. It’s not a nine-to-five job for them. They show up when they need to, leave when they need to, and they give a 110%. They believe in everything I give them, even in my craziest ideas. They’re the backbone of what we do here at St.Amant. I couldn’t ask for a better team. This award is for all of us.”
When Tracy went to Red River College to complete her Volunteer Management certificate, Barb Gemmell was her instructor. “To receive this award named after Barb is such an honour,” says Tracy. “She’s a pioneer in the volunteer management field. She’s a strong advocate who shows employers how important volunteer departments are. Being the second recipient of this award means everything to me.”
To those hesitating to try their hand at volunteering, Tracy has one message, “Recruiting, retaining and recognizing volunteers takes a team of dedicated individuals and an organization that believes in their volunteers and sees them as indispensable and not as individuals who come in to supplement staff. That’s what St.Amant is all about. When you walk through our doors you’ll want to stay forever. Come volunteer at St.Amant! We’ll take you on! You’ll love it!”