Mike Shepherd is an ambitious entrepreneur and successful owner of several businesses in Chilliwack. Earlier this year he was looking for something to get involved in and as luck would have it Erin Coghlan, the current board Chair, reached out and asked him to join.
When asked to describe the board Mike says the one word he would use is passionate and that it’s been an eye opener to see a group of people so self-less and committed to a cause. As he puts it “seeing someone love what they do- it’s contagious!”
He would like to start new fundraising initiatives to increase revenue for support services and MS research. As an entrepreneur, Mike likes looking outside the box and wants to develop more partnerships that link the Society with local businesses, as well as projects that would create on-going income.
Mike truly enjoys contributing to the community and has done so in many capacities, including being a mentor for the entrepreneurship students at Sardis Secondary School, as well as fundraising for BC Children’s Hospital. Looking forward, Mike’s motivated to take on a leadership position within the Society and jumpstart some new and exciting projects that will positively impact people affected by MS.
As a champion fundraiser and advocate, Joanne Craven is a key member of the Fraser Valley MS Society (MSS.) Currently as Vice-Chair for the FV Board, Joanne devotes her time to MSS fundraisers and to making Abbotsford more accessible.
Thirty years ago, Joanne was diagnosed with MS and immediately got involved with the MSS by volunteering for the Carnation campaign. Over the years she’s participated in the first Fraser Valley MS Walk and MS Bike. To mark her 30th year with MS, Joanne recruited a team of over 30 family members and friends for the Abbotsford Walk. She’s now looking forward to Muck MS, the new 5KM outdoor obstacle event happening at Dicklands Farms this October.
In addition to fundraising, Joanne’s very proud of the board’s collaboration with the Abbotsford Parks, Recreation & Culture (PRC) department. Recently implemented, the PRC Special Needs Access Program (SNAP) provides Abbotsford residents, who have permanent disabilities as confirmed by a physician, with a 50% discount on recreation centre drop-in admissions and memberships. Joanne is a firm believer in the benefits of staying active and she is very hopeful that this initiative will help others live a healthy lifestyle.
Looking back on the past 30 years Joanne believes the MSS has made a real difference in the lives of those affected by MS. She is thankful that the Society provides easy access to information, education, and support.
Joanne has really enjoyed working with the MSS and says the best part is “feeling like you’re helping people like yourself, by creating things and making them happen.” She looks forward to continuing to make a difference and raising much needed funds!
For complete details on the Abbotsford SNAP program, please contact the Parks, Recreation & Culture Office at 604.859.3134.
Even though Jason Low is a relatively new member of the Lower Mainland Chapter’s Board of Directors, he’s already making an impact. As the first board member to take on the chapter’s social media accounts, Jason has demonstrated innovation and conscientiousness by learning how to create and successfully run our Facebook, WordPress, and Twitter accounts. A Senior Management Consultant and frequent traveler for business, Jason still manages to make time for volunteering; previously volunteering at the Kelowna General Hospital and the Golden Key International Honour Society.
One year ago the MS Society post on Go Volunteer caught Jason’s eye. It mentioned that the chapter was going through some changes and Jason was eager to help out during a period of transition.
Now that he’s been on the board for over a year he’s led a Scotiabank MS Walk team and is running a social media contest. He describes his fellow board members as warm and friendly and says that meetings can easily stretch longer than 2 hours because everyone is good to talk to. He believes the board strives to create more awareness about MS and to increase the events and services available for people affected by MS.
Jason has truly enjoyed hearing the transformative stories people have told him about living with MS; so much so that his social media content entry for “What does MS mean to me?” was entitled Many challenges, but More Successes! He emphasizes how no matter what step you take with MS, whether good or bad, you are constantly making little changes, like joining a self-help group or going gluten-free, and that these changes combined with a strong support group can lead you to focus on the bright side of MS.
In the future Jason would like to continue raising awareness about MS by joining a SnapQuest team and getting more people engaged with the LMC MS Society’s Facebook Page. Jason is thankful to the board for letting him develop new social media skills and for the opportunity to volunteer in a different capacity than he has before.
Wendy St. Marie is determined to create more freedom and independence for people with different accessibility needs. Wendy is currently one of two leaders of the Kitsilano Self-Help group for the MS Society. She also serves as the Chair of the Board for HandyDART and is part of the Access Transit Board Committee. Wendy actively seeks opportunities to teach others about disability awareness by creating informative workshops for graduating Drivers of the Coast Mountain Bus Company, and hosting the “Scooter Rodeos” for people with mobility aides with the Collingwood Policing Department.
Greg Turnbull has been at the heart of Maple Ridge’s Hope and Balance Support Group since its inception in January 2012. “The group blossomed through serendipity,” says Greg, “one thing led to another and all these volunteers fell in our group’s lap.” Greg has seen the group grow from monthly meetings to include different health therapies and fundraising initiatives. Just last year, Hope and Balance raised an outstanding $5,000 for the MS Walk! Greg and his team of volunteers and community partners strive to provide a safe and inviting atmosphere for people to feel comfortable sharing the challenges that come with living with MS. For more information on the Hope and Balance Support Group please contact the Lower Mainland Chapter at 604-689-3144, or Hope & Balance at 604-895-8202.
As a Peer Support Volunteer, Sherri Allen offers her listening skills, positive outlook, and empathy to newly diagnosed peers. Sherri has had innumerable matches through the Peer Support Program and has even established great friendships with the people she’s encountered. One interesting bit about Sherri is that she and her sister starred in an episode of Crash Test Mommy! The entertaining episode was profiled in the MS Society’s BC and Yukon newsletter “MS Hope MS Heroes.”
Sarah Lazar is a Peer Support Volunteer and a member of the Client Services Committee at the Lower Mainland Chapter. Through her experience on the committee, Sarah has played a direct role in improving the services, programs, and resources the Chapter offers its members. Sarah is a strong advocate, who lobbies for more inclusive and accessible community recreation for persons with physical disabilities.
Sam Saxby has been a cherished volunteer for over 20 years, being involved in leading the Metrotown Self Help group, fundraising for the Carnation Campaign and VanLottery, speaking on behalf of the Lower Mainland Chapter at various conferences and forums, starting the Chapter’s very first newsletter, “The Bulletin,” and much more. Sam is an avid skydiver and traveler and believes in pushing through no matter what. “Giving up,” according to Sam, “is not in my vocabulary.”
Ron Jones’s more than 35 year commitment to the MS Society includes volunteering for the Peer Support Program and Volunteer Legal Advocacy Program (VLAP), participating in the Coquitlam Self Help Group and serving on the Board of Directors for the BC and Yukon division. Ron believes that that in order to live positively, “you need to concentrate on what you have.” Once people notice the positive aspects of their lives, they can handle life’s struggles in a more constructive way.
Rhogene Dadashzadeh is passionate about our responsibility to make MS livable and the power of fundraising to make a difference. She presently serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Board’s Fundraising Committee, bringing with her a high level of expertise in corporate development and event management. Roghene’s focus is renewing fundraising strategies to positively impact research and care for those affected by MS.