Endings matter, not just for the person but, perhaps even more, for the ones left behind.
Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
Alison’s career in the federal public service was spent managing in a variety of departments in diverse disciplines, communications, strategic planning, audit and evaluation, employment equity, values and ethics. Her last position was as the corporate secretary for a regional development agency. Prior to joining the public service, she also worked in the private sector for Bell Canada, Eaton’s and IBM.
One of her first experiences as a volunteer was at St. Vincent’s Hospital when she turned 16. It was a revelation for her. Over the years, she also volunteered as a Girl Guide leader, an organization that was particularly important for her daughter. However, the direction of her volunteerism was set when her mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain tumour in 1987 and was given 6 months to live. She wanted to die at home; the family did everything they could to honour her wishes. There were few resources at the time to support palliative care and Alison was incredibly grateful to the organizations that aided, not only her mother and her end-of-life care, but also the family. She resolved to direct her retirement volunteerism towards palliative care.
The year before retiring, she took an 11-week course offered by the Hospice at May Court for in-person support. This will be her 10th year volunteering in a Day Hospice Program. When the outreach and day hospice programs were put on hold during the pandemic, Alison took yoga teacher training to offer movement and connection through chair yoga classes on-line. She has also volunteered with paddling programs for physically-challenged children and adults and developmentally-delayed young adults.
Alison joined the Board in May 2021.