The annual Golden Heart Award is awarded in memory of Marlene Le Blanc who served as a volunteer and staff member of ADVAS. The Golden Heart Award is awarded to those who have shown outstanding, selfless efforts to reach out to victims and have extended above and beyond what is expected by the volunteer and their position.
The nominees for this award are chosen by fellow ADVAS volunteers who have all shown great dedication and commitment throughout 2018.
We are often faced with many struggles, complicated files, tough clients, and at most times, a high file load.
As previously said by an advocate “this is such a dynamic group of volunteers. Everyone has something unique and special to offer. Everyone supports each other and is amazing with victims”.
We are forever grateful for the wonderful jobs our volunteers do so well.
Airdrie resident Trudi Tiessen was in complete disbelief when she heard that she was the recipient of the 2022 Golden Heart Award.
The Golden Heart Award was created in memory of Marlene Leblanc, who was also a volunteer at the District Victims Assistance Society (ADVAS), which provides 24-hour crisis response and support to victims of crime and/ or tragedy in partnership with the RCMP. The award is meant to recognize those who have displayed compassion, commitment and dedication to ADVAS.
Tiessen started working with ADVAS in January 2021 and since then, has logged nearly 3,000 hours in her role as an advocate.
“I was the last person I expected. In fact, it was not on my radar at all. The truth of the matter is, I don’t feel that I have done any more than anyone else,” Tiessen said. “I got into this to basically to help people in crisis and as someone who has been in some of those situations, I just want to help people to find resilience and find resources and get through it to the best of their ability.”
While Tiessen had a very humble reaction to her award, her fellow volunteers at ADVAS have all lauded her commitment and her determination to help all those who need support in some of their worst times. Elizabeth Wyszynski, the Volunteer Program Manager with ADVAS said that all the crisis advocates, 23 volunteers and four staff members who work with ADVAS, choose amongst themselves the award recipient.
“Volunteering for any organization is already above and beyond. Our volunteers have a very rigid schedule; they’re on call overnight and they have designated times over the month. However, Trudy has stepped in when she was not scheduled and when staff needed extra help during the daytime because we’re only four staff members,” Wyszynski said.
She also noted that Tiessen has on several occasions come during her time off to help with whatever needed to be dealt with.
“Not only that she’s taken a leadership role in her team of volunteers, but she has provided a lot of emotional support to her peers as well,” she said. “We focus a lot on debriefing and supporting one another, especially in the work that we do, and she’s going above and beyond for her peers. She’s done a tremendous amount of work for us.”
Both Tiessen and Wyszynski agreed that the work that ADVAS does can be taxing on its members, especially since it requires an extraordinary amount of empathy and compassion. However, Tiessen said that the work she does means she is walking alongside someone who has gone through trauma, a path she says she also once had to walk as someone who is a survivor of personal trauma.
“You don’t always see the reward at that particular moment, you never really know for sure. You just hope that you can be what somebody needs,” she said. “I just hope that if there’s one person that I’ve helped in this world, to get through that worst moment, then that’s the reward.”
Wyszynski said that other peers have remarked on Tiessen’s determination and advocacy work as someone who will always stand up for the people she supports and works with.
“Listening to her interactions with victims is inspiring. She not only shows empathy when needed but also encourages the people we support to find strength in themselves. Trudi has gone above and beyond for victims, her peers and the organization. Her skills, knowledge and kindness make her an exemplary Victim Services Advocate.”
While Tiessen continues to be in some shock over her accolade, she did say that she feels very strongly that all her peers at ADVAS are also deserving of the award.
Written by Anna Ferensowicz @ https://discoverairdrie.com/