Celebrating Volunteer Excellence

2015 Ontario Provincial Volunteer Awards Ceremony



gilianBeing a summer student here at TorchLight has opened my eyes to the numerous applications of this service which can aid a variety of different people such as youth, immigrants, seniors, individuals dealing with cancer, postpartum depression and addiction, through the use of telephone based support. Additionally, it has taught me the importance of peer support, which permits for a greater understanding of the individual’s struggles; hence, compassion and a deeper sense of empathy can be gained due to the similarity of the experiences. This enables for unconditional  acceptance, normalization, and a sense of belonging to flourish as well as aids to promote empowerment, hope and self‐efficacy. Volunteering at TorchLight has allowed to me to feel as though I can make a difference in a person’s day. Although at times, it may be difficult and trying. However, once you establish a connection and help the caller to see that there are people out there who truly care for their well-being, the feeling that ensues in indescribable. The unconditional support and ability to listen emphatically is a skill that has permitted me to grow professional as well as personally. I truly value by experiences here at TorchLight.

Gilan Abdelaal Smith
BA International Development
MA Counseling Psychology



erinAs a recent graduate, I came to TorchLight with training that was often given in a list format of needs, or philosophies and community supports, put in place to try to meet them. My time here at  TeleCheck ~ Dufferin has been invaluable to me in putting voices, personalities and people to those needs and personal situations to the philosophies. The creative and individualized approach that TorchLight takes in its interactions with every person we serve has inspired me and I will remember these situations whenever I see barriers holding back support from those who need it. As well, I have seen how the values and philosophies are upheld in the daily activities of the staff and volunteers. Even beyond the interesting and dynamic individuals I have met through our daily  calls, I have had the privilege of working with teams of volunteers who care deeply and go out of their way each day to lighten and strengthen those with whom they interact. Through the ongoing  and future changes coming for TorchLight, I am confident in the solid foundation of staff and volunteers that have shown their commitment time and again to create positive change in their community.

Erin Elias, B.S.Sc.



I cannot speak highly enough of the people who make up the TorchLight team.

kathleenOur volunteers are deeply caring, compassionate and patient individuals who form the foundation of this organization. With their valued input, we continue to increase our team’s capacity to serve the community. We have a coaching model to provide training and ongoing support to our volunteers; it is a highly collaborative process.
Our members and callers are also inspiring. Time and again we encounter the force of their strength, their passions and their resiliency. Even after a simple social call, members often provide encouraging feedback about the positive impact of the call on their day. Our highly trained volunteers are engaging with them in a meaningful way that makes a real difference for each person they support.

With strong leadership, TorchLight’s programs are always adapting to meet the needs of everyone involved. I deeply admire the creativity and outside‐the‐box thinking that each person brings to the team to ensure we are doing our utmost to serve our community. I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of this innovative  program, and I look forward to continuing to learn and grow with this amazing team.

Kathleen Herbinson, B.A. Honours
Distress Line Volunteer Coach



kamelaMy name is Kamela Salimi and I have been volunteering at TorchLight for just over one year now. I never imagined how much I would grow as a person from  volunteering here for just four hours per week. It has been a real treat to be a part of this little community. In the beginning, I only started volunteering here because I needed to add some experience to my resume and I was under the assumption that after my one‐year term was completed, I would quickly move on and do other things. As the year passed however, I noticed many changes in myself that made me want to keep coming back for more. Since applying the skills I have been taught here, I have become a better listener and a kinder person over all. In addition to this, I love talking to people on the phone line and it is an honor to listen to them and try to support them in their unique situations. Whether during the call the caller reaches a conclusion or just finds a safe place to vent, at the end of the call when they thank me for listening to them and being there for them, it adds so much more to my day.

Kamela Salimi