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Accomplished Volunteer Marilyn McQueen’s Artistic Spirit Helps Students Soar


Marilyn McQueen is the very embodiment of the dedication we so often speak of when we talk about our incredible volunteers. We are thrilled to kickstart ONFE’s Volunteer Month by featuring her!

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Heather, a teacher at Riverview Alternative School who often collaborates with Marilyn, doesn’t mince words when she speaks about the support volunteers provide in the classroom: “They’re totally invaluable. I couldn’t do my job without them. Teaching is the best job in the world, but it’s a lot of work.”

Over the last several years, Marilyn McQueen has volunteered her time at a number of schools, including Meadowlands Public School, Pleasant Park Public School and Riverview Alternative. As part of her volunteer role at Riverview, Marilyn does a little bit of everything: she’ll read to students in a one-on-one setting, support educators in classrooms, and craft objects to help students learn.

An aspect Marilyn undoubtedly appreciates of her volunteer work is interacting with the students: “I like it here because I’ve seen the kids grow up and move on.” She added that she volunteers in schools because she enjoys “the involvement, the enjoyment you get from being with the teachers, and the fun and the enjoyment you see from the kids. At that age, they’re so welcoming. They love to read with anyone who reads with them.” Indeed, as soon as Marilyn sets foot in the classroom, the students welcome her!

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Marilyn’s crystal-clear handwriting is especially beneficial to young students beginning to read and write.

One of our immediate questions when admiring Marilyn’s handiwork concerned her inspiration: “I just don’t want it to be boring! I have a real hoot with this.” Heather is tremendously grateful for Marilyn’s volunteer work and artistic spirit: “The thing that Marilyn does for me is hours and hours and hours of time. She has the most beautiful printing. She’ll make charts. She is so precise in the things that she makes; anything she makes she does to perfection.”

Marilyn spoke to us about the benefits of giving back to our community as a senior: “I think it keeps seniors very active. It keeps you going mentally because you’re always doing something with them or for them. It keeps you alert.”

Marilyn is a volunteer in our Seniors in Schools initiative, an effort made possible thanks in part to a grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation (OCF).

“We’re very proud to support the Seniors in Schools initiative,” says Rebecca Aird, Director, Grants and Community Knowledge with the OCF. “We love that it gives seniors, some who might otherwise feel isolated, an opportunity to connect with teachers and students in a very meaningful way. These seniors are making a difference in the lives of students, many of whom have very complex learning needs.”

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Marilyn loves using her artistic spirit to handcraft tools to facilitate students’ learning in a fun and interactive environment.

Marilyn expanded on the reasons why she finds volunteering to be rewarding: “I would be bored sitting at home; I would find that the time would be long. I wanted to stay involved with the kids. I needed to be out and doing stuff.”

It’s clear that there’s a special bond between Heather and Marilyn. Heather insisted that part of the reason why Marilyn is so valuable to her classroom is “the goodness of her heart. Marilyn is very special to me.”

If you like what you read, consider giving back to our community by joining ONFE’s Volunteers in Education program. The program is a rewarding experience for volunteers, educators and students. Find out for yourself!

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