You can balance life, work and volunteering!

Happy National Volunteer Week 

Match-making process at Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada makes volunteering easier

How do they do it?  

You’ve seen those people managing a full-time job, family responsibilities, kids’ extra curriculars and then… yes, and then volunteering, without ever dropping the ball (at least while you are watching).  

This juggling act may seem impossible, but let me introduce you to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada volunteers Danielle and Michele. These two amazing young women are mastering the balance of life, work and volunteering.  

image of Michele Bliss

Michele Bliss

“I haven’t really found balance, I just strive for it,” says Michele, who is co-facilitator of the Burlington-Hamilton Support Group. “Striving for balance means knowing your limits and having a plan. Ask for help. Know who ‘your team’ is, you need a team.”  

By day, Michele is responsible for a dementia education program and provides coaching support to trainers across Canada. Her job also involves intermittent travel. Committing to a schedule initially held her back from volunteering, but being so blessed in her own brain tumour journey, Michele wanted to be there to support others.   

“It’s an opportunity to take my blessing and make a difference,” says Michele, who was diagnosed in 2008 with a non-malignant brain tumour.   

Danielle, 26, is busy pursuing her master’s degree in occupational therapy — a feat on its own after multiple brain surgeries for a large pituitary macroadenoma discovered in 2015. 

It was while recovering in hospital that she came across a pamphlet about Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.   

Picture of Danielle

Danielle Barclay

“I immediately knew that I wanted to connect and support others who may have gone through their own brain tumour journey,” says Danielle.  “Although life of the student is a pretty busy one, giving back and ensuring this community has a place to meet is a priority of mine.” 

She is currently the convenor of the Edmonton Support Group 

Our volunteers bring their knowledge, experience and especially their passion for the brain tumour community.  

“We are incredibly fortunate for the gift of their time and passion,” says Jennifer McIntosh, human relations manager at Brain Tumour Foundation. “I am all too aware that volunteers have any number of charities where they could chose to put their time.” 

A perfect match 

Michele says the foundation staff helped her find the perfect position with the flexibility she required.  

Match-making  at Brain Tumour Foundation is better than any dating app. Our talented HR Manager explores your strengths, experience, interests and availability to ensure you find that perfect fit.  

“I think the aspect of having a volunteer role that involves a partner solidified it for me. If it were all on me I know my life wouldn’t allow the consistent schedule,” says Michele.   

She and another long-time volunteer, Ingrid Exner, established a team approach to their role to allow flexibility for when “life happens”.  

“It is important to me that volunteering for us makes them feel that their experience and time is valued and that their role makes them feel they are making a difference to the brain tumour community,” says Jennifer. “There is nothing worse than giving of your free time and not being fulfilled with the work you are doing.” 

Part of a community 

When you volunteer with us, you become a part of the community. For Danielle, her role is more than registering new members, sending emails or taking attendance. It’s about belonging to a community. 

From frequent mentorship from our Edmonton Support Services Specialist Cheryl Bauer to the opportunities to meet others who have gone through similar experiences make her role even more rewarding.  

“Everyone has a story and although they might differ, I still feel a sense of community and connectedness with the other group members because of their ongoing acceptance and support,” she says. “Attending the meetings also help me remember what is important in life which makes fitting it into my schedule that much easier.”  

Final thoughts 

Ask yourself, what really matters in life? If you prioritize studying, you could get a better mark on your exam, but if you prioritize volunteering, you could make a difference in someone’s life, and this to me holds more weight in the end.


Think of volunteerism as a social duty. It’s about being part of something bigger, part of a strong movement, and an opportunity to take my blessing and make a difference.


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