A Career Come and Gone (Part Four)

Posted September 5, 2014 by

Last year I received my 15 year Ontario Service Award for Volunteers, as well as, the Gretchen Sangster Award for Education presented by Gretchen and ACCKWA. I would like to share a couple of scenarios that keep me moving forward through words of respect and appreciation:

Kitchener Record
Manulife Financial
June 9, 2012

Applauding our community volunteers

"Volunteer Action Centre – John Davie’s courage, giving nature, and sense of humour comes through in every word when he talks about volunteering with ACCKWA. He’s volunteered with the organization for fifteen years, and sees it as “a way to help those in the community who aren’t ready to believe in themselves. By working together, we can keep the cycle going”. Volunteering has made him more compassionate, and helped him to see the value of giving back. Drawn to the organization as a way to gain purpose and strength after he was diagnosed as HIV positive, John wanted to encourage others to live in a safe environment and provide them with up-to-date and balanced information.

ACCKWA is also a safe space for discussing challenges and moments of triumph. Volunteer roles at ACCKWA can be flexible, he says, and it’s often possible to follow your interests and support special events, social media, speaking or fundraising. John’s volunteer responsibilities largely focus on reception at ACCKWA’s office in Kitchener, but he’s hoping to support a men’s group in the future, and has started sharing his story as a public speaker in the Speaker’s Bureau. A moment that’s stayed with him was when, after speaking to a group of high school students, one young man came up afterwards in tears. The student thanked John for speaking, and told him that his Uncle is HIV positive, after John’s presentation, he felt he might be able to communicate better with his Uncle."

Gretchen Sangster Award
Outstanding Contributions by a Volunteer in Education
(in assistance with Lynn Cashubec, PHA Capacity Development Co-ordinator, ACCKWA)

Gretchen Sangster Speech:

"It is my pleasure and honour to present the Award for Outstanding Contributions by a Volunteer in Education. The recipient of this year’s award goes to John Davie.John has been involved at ACCKWA since 1997! Over the past 15 years, John has provided assistance in just about every aspect of what we do at our agency! Lynn tells me that John was nominated 3 times this year. I think this speaks volumes about the contributions that John has made to our community and our agency.

This year, John was nominated:
- Once for advocacy by another PHA who felt that “John jumps in and helps wherever he is needed”!
- Secondly, by a PHA staff member
- Thirdly by a staff member for Education

Some of the comments that were written on the various nomination forms for John included:

He has incredible energy for 2011 AIDS Vigil planning group of 2; The Wrap It Up fundraising Event at Sizzle World AIDS Day 2011” and John assisted with planning “Survive To Thrive” event with AIDS Bereavement and Resiliency Project of Ontario and ACCKWA’s PHA Cooking Circle”.

In addition of these project focused contributions, John does reception at ACCKWA two days a week and one day per week at Sanguen Health Centre. John is the first person people see when they come into these agencies and he greets them in a positive, professional and welcoming way!
For the purposes of this award presentation tonight, we will be highlighting the area in which ACCKWA feels John has grown the most over the last year or so.

John has taken Speakers Bureau very seriously and has crafted his story about living with HIV and being part of the GLBTQ community into an awareness model. This past year he has blossomed into an engaging speaker who encourages feedback which he uses to continually hone his skills.

He has presented to many groups from a variety of places, including students in high school, universities and medical residents. Education and awareness of ACCKWA, HIV, and stigma of both HIV and gay individuals are definitely on the menu of each of his encounters.

John is a force to be reckoned with! He strives to make acceptance of all, a societal norm! His role in the Laramie Project: 10 Years Later and the Rainbow Chorus presentation was another avenue for him to share his passion and of course provided him with great material for his blogging initiatives as John Henry – The Dreamer on positivelite.com.

John has found endless ways to continue to educate and share with his community and will never let things be forgotten that could potentially create an opportunity to enhance people’s understanding of issues faced by PHA’s, as well as, the support needs of those who experience stigma and discrimination. He will stand in the “hot spot” as long as he needs to, in order to develop an understanding about these issues in others. He expresses a real sense of accomplishment and purpose if he impacts even one person with his message through his presentations. This is the true meaning of an educator!

Thank you John for your energy, bravery and support of ACCKWA and everyone involved. We appreciate the courage you exude while advocating for the rights of others through your awareness and education efforts.

We are very proud of you and very grateful of the time, energy and passion you put into the volunteering work you do for ACCKWA.
John, on behalf of ACCKWA and all the people who have benefited from your volunteer efforts, we thank you for your dedication to ACCKWA and the services you provide on our behalf.

Please join me in congratulating John in receiving this award."

Well, I have to say I was numb from head to toe when this speech was delivered. This is not just about the volunteering, but doing so in conjunction with living with HIV/AIDS. I’ve stated at various public speaks that if you told me I would be standing here today around the time I was diagnosed, I would have laughed through the tears……………….. (to be continued)

John Henry Rombough-Davie – The Dreamer - with much love and thanks

Also available on ACCKWA's speakers bureau