Volunteer Profile: Mary Pisk-Dubienski
Interview by Charles Leibovitch
Community involvement, caring for others and love of family were instilled in Mary at a young age. Born in Chatham, Ontario, as a young girl, Mary and her family were involved with their community through their church. Mary remembers when in the 1970s she, her family, and her neighbors got together to make meals for Vietnamese refugees in order to make them feel welcome in the community.
As a teenager, Mary organized a big parade for the Port Elgin community get-together. The family then moved to Creston BC where Mary finished high school. She then moved to Alberta and studied culinary arts, becoming a professional chef. Back in Creston, she got a job as a head chef in a Mexican–Italian restaurant. She also began volunteering with her church and community, directing young people in a Christmas show that she had written.
On the move again, this time to Calgary, where she got a job with H&R Block and met her husband. Mary continued to volunteer, giving lectures on tax preparation at the Calgary community libraries. At H&R Block Mary was eventually promoted to district manager of Vancouver, covering Vancouver, Burnaby, North Vancouver and West Vancouver. Mary, her husband and oldest son moved to Burnaby. Over the next 6 years they had three more children. During this period Mary left her position at H&R Block and resumed her love of volunteering.
I first met Mary years ago in her role as office coordinator for my dentist. Over the years Mary would always greet me with her wonderful smile, warm nature and humor, and I always looked forward to seeing her. As a result I asked her one day if she would be interested in taking a training course with our volunteer trainer Grace Hann. She agreed. Mary completed the training in 2015 and was soon matched with a client who was not able to speak on her own due to her medical condition and medications that she was taking. Mary began to visit her client every week for the next three years and miraculously over time her client regained much of her ability to speak. Mary shared with me that her involvement with her client as a Certified Senior Peer Support Volunteer has been a wonderful journey and very moving to see her client regain not just her speech but her sense of humour and joy of life.