Isabelle Roberge’s early foray into volunteering helped pave the way to a blossoming career.
Born and raised in Barrie, the 26-year-old is a registered nurse and is currently pursuing her masters in nursing as a primary health-care nurse practitioner.
Volunteer work at St. John Ambulance Barrie Simcoe Muskoka, beginning eight years ago, set Roberge on her way, she says.
“I was unsure of what I wanted to do post-secondary, so I took a year off after high school to figure that out,” she says. “I knew I enjoyed helping people as well as the health profession so I began to look for ways where I could get involved, hoping it would lead me in the direction of what I wanted to pursue as a career.”
It was during that year off that Roberge took a CPR class with St. John Ambulance (SJA) and learned about the volunteer medical first-responder unit.
“Learning about that unit and the impact its members have on community engagement sparked my interest in wanting to join SJA,” she says. “Over the eight years I have been with St. John Ambulance, I have grown significantly as an individual.
“St. John Ambulance has allowed me to develop various life skills such as medical skills, building community rapport, communication skills, time management, conflict resolution and leadership," Roberge adds.
The St. Joseph’s Catholic High School grad carried out various roles within the medical first-responder unit, such as becoming a training officer to help ensure members are competent with their clinical skills as well as the administration officer, which is her current role.
“I’ve also had the pleasure of being a part of the car seat unit in which I helped new parents learn about the proper way of installing car seats to ensure the safety of their children," she says.
Over those eight years (and counting), Roberge has devoted a good chunk of her time to St. John Ambulance. More than 2,500 hours, in fact.
“Volunteering is very important to me,” she says. “It’s given me a chance to get involved and give back to the community I was brought up in, as well as guide my career choice.
“I have dedicated my time and profession to serving others because it’s rewarding, despite the challenges,” Roberge says. “And by volunteering I believe I’ve made a positive impact on the lives of those I serve.”
Sandra Tedford, who is with Barrie St. John Ambulance, says people volunteer for different reasons.
“We have some volunteers who join to gain experience and to add volunteer hours to their resumes,” she says. “For our medical first-responder unit, there are people who join who are looking for careers within firefighting or being paramedics and police officers. We have volunteers who join our board of directors to help them with career promotions.
“And we have volunteers join who are just looking to give back to the community they live in," Tedford says. "Some of these volunteers stay for years and volunteer with different units at the same time or transition from one unit to another.”
Giving of your time isn’t just a good feeling, it looks good on you, Tedford adds.
“Having volunteer hours on a person’s resume shows they are committed to giving back to their community,” she says. “There are a lot of companies that like having employees who give back, as most companies give back too and want employees who understand how important that is.