Recently, I asked Victor Nichols, an Associate Consultant at Manawa Networks why he feels so passionate about his volunteer work in Toronto which began in 2008. On May 15, 2011, Victor participated in a rain or shine fundraising event called Amanda’s Lemonade Stand and Josh’s Cookie Counter. 100% of the proceeds went to support the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Save a Child’s Heart Foundation Canada and the SickKids Labatt Family Heart Centre.
Amanda Belzowski, who is almost 14 years old, is a nationally recognized child philanthropist and entrepreneur. She has raised more than $150,000 to fix kids’ hearts for more than a decade. At this year’s event, Amanda’s brother, Joshua, who is 5 years old, took over Amanda’s Lemonade Stand as Ananda’s looks onwards to more ambitious philanthropic projects.
Victor was happy to give me an hour of his time to answer a few questions about his volunteer work.
1. What has surprised you most about volunteering with this cause?
Victor: The energy and dedication of the kids. It is driven by kids for kids. It has developed in much the same way a child grows and learns. Over the past 13 years, Amanda and Joshua have raised more money every year. While growing up, they have inspired me and thousands of others. I had the privilege of sharing a photo with these two superstars (see photo below).
2. When did you first start volunteering?
Victor: I’ve been volunteering for more than 20 years for numerous non-government organizations (NGOs) and charitable events donating my time or expertise. I have a passion for working with young people. Early on, while raising a family, I coached hockey for many years. While we had several 1st place finishes for the season, my goal was to have fun ensuring every kid got ice time. We played as a team from start to finish!
I recieved the Pickering Hockey Associations Presidents Award for Outstanding Volunteerism in 1996. I was also voted as a member of CSAC (Catholic School Advisory Councils) for 3 years followed by the role of Chairman for 5 years.
3. Why do you volunteer and how do you feel about this cause?
Victor: I have been blessed in my life. It gives me great joy to serve a fellow human being, who may be in need. At Manawa Networks, I’m excited about going to work because of that strong sense of belonging, camaraderie and doing great work for our customers.
Volunteering gives me an opportunity to make a difference in a community and be part of something bigger than myself. Peter Drucker, the popular management thinker, believed that the social sector was especially important because it gave people another purpose and a way to be socially responsible citizens for local causes important to them.
4. What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs or values?
Victor: In a nutshell, ‘Do onto others, as you would have them do for you’. It is about having an optimistic outlook with a great attitude. The glass is always half full. I look for super positive people with a great outlook on life. That includes people in the workplace and volunteer work including the kids I am privileged to work with.
5. Tell me about some people you had the opportunity to meet while volunteering with this group?
Victor: It’s all about meeting kids like Amanda and Joshua that make it real for me. Having said that, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several celebrities like Donald Trump, Darryl Sittler, Walter Gretzky, Wendel Clark and Michael Lutrell “Pinball” Clemons (Pinball with Amanda and Joshua below). While I have not met David Copperfield and Larry King, they have done a great deal for this cause.
6. What advice would you give to someone interested in volunteering?
Victor: Just Do It. Give and you shall receive. The rewards and satisfaction are so much greater than you can imagine. If anyone is interested in volunteering for this charity, they can contact me at vnichols (at) manawa.net