ONFE celebrates National Volunteer Week by highlighting some of the amazing volunteers doing great work in our community. Meet Christine Leblanc, volunteer with our School Breakfast Program.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Toronto, went to high school in Timmins, came to Ottawa for university and forgot to leave. Recently I started a new position as a Communications Advisor (Social Media Specialist) with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, and I’ve also worked for myself for a number of years as a writer and editor. Usually my hobbies include concerts, movies and travelling, but during the pandemic it’s just been reading and walking.
2. What made you decide to volunteer with ONFE?
I was talking with some friends about how much I missed dances, and someone jokingly suggested I organize one. Instantly I thought of the School Breakfast Program – after all those years of dances in school cafeterias, it was a perfect fit. I created the Breakfast Club Retro Dance, rented a space and hired a DJ to play music from the ‘70s, ‘80s and early ‘90s. People dressed up and really got into it. Over three years we raised almost $11,000 and helped feed a lot of kids. After that, I still wanted to be involved, and the great ONFE staff kindly asked me to be on the organizing committee for the Spark Soirée.
3. If you had a time machine, what year would you travel to and why?
I’d go back and talk with various religious leaders about the importance of their messaging. They all need to be much more clear about how we should be kind to each other. I’d hope that would avoid a lot of problems.
4. For 24 hours, you can steal credit for any great piece of art, song, film, book, etc., which one would you claim?
The Harry Potter books. They’re among the best-selling books of all time, so the royalties for even one day would be something!
5. What is your favourite hidden gem in Ottawa?
The stairs behind Parliament Hill, all 286 of them.
6. What was the single greatest lesson of this past year and what did it teach you about yourself?
Amazing things can happen when people come together with a shared goal. The vaccines are one example, but so is the School Breakfast Program – the way they pulled a pandemic pivot to make sure kids got fed at home during the lockdown was remarkable. On a personal note, I realized how much I appreciated slowing down. It was the sabbatical I never knew I needed!