Volunteer Profiles

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta salutes these wonderful volunteers and their inspiring stories

Lesa Bain - Making a Difference

When Lesa Bain’s father passed away from a massive heart attack eight years ago, she was compelled to keep his memory alive through volunteering for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “And by raising funds for research and health promotion, I hope to prevent others from experiencing the loss of a loved one from heart disease as I have,” says Lesa.
By canvassing door-to-door in her community during Heart Month and Stroke Month, Lesa has had the opportunity to meet the wonderful people that make up her neighbourhood. “It’s amazing how people share their stories with you, almost everyone knows somebody who has had some form of heart disease or a stroke,” she says. “And people are very willing to support such a worthy cause.”

As a professional speaker specializing in bringing humour to the workplace, Lesa is always promoting the health benefits of laughter.“Researchhas shown that laughter may reduce the risks for heart disease,” she says. “Laughter decreases stress hormones and reduces the effects of both physical and mental stress.”

Volunteering in one’s community is a great way to get exercise and to share a few laughs with neighbours – all good things for a healthy heart. “Canvassing door-to-door only takes a couple of hours and I feel that I am making a positive contribution to the greater community,” Lesa explains. “And the fact that the fundraising campaigns are so well organized helps. It’s pretty easy – all you need to do is follow the detailed instructions that come with the canvassing kits.”

“Canvassing door-to-door in my community allows me to keep a close connection with my neighbours while raising awareness of the Heart and Stroke Foundation,” says Lesa. “Ultimately, it’s all about supporting life-saving research and building healthier communities – and that’s a cause I strongly believe in.”

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Julie Warwaruk and the Servus Credit Union staff - Slave Lake, Alberta


 Picture: Julie Warwaruk and co-workers from Servus Credit Union: Beki, Janice, Elaine, Marylou, Danail, Jonathan and Cheryl

Julie Warwaruk is as organised as they come when it comes to rallying and working with her family and co-workers from Servus Credit Union to participate in various Heart and Stroke fundraisers in her community. The realisation that she needed to raise awareness of the Heart and Stroke Foundation in Slave Lake have made her and her co-workers Servus Superstars! Julie works with teams of volunteers in Slave Lake for Heart Month, Stroke Month and to bring the first ever Big Bike ride in her community as Captain. The Credit Union is used as a Drop off Point for Campaign even though they carry on with busy hours every day. Julie's future dreams of establishing a foundation base for the Heart and Stroke include aiming for 2 more Big Bike rides next year and organising a Ladies in Red Event. As a result of the efforts of Julie and the great volunteers of Servus and Slave Lake, $5,481.89 was raised in one campaign year. Julie has been volunteering for 4 years, is married with 4 children and says she volunteers because she is "looking out for her friends and her family". 

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Marilyn Halman - Eagle Eye

The weather in Calgary is so unpredictable, one minute the sun is shining, the next minute your new car is being pounded by golf ball size hail.

One thing that you can count on in Calgary is Marilyn Halman. Marilyn has been a dedicated and committed volunteer with the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Calgary office for over 12 years. As an integral member of our Office Support volunteer team, Marilyn comes in three times a week for 3 hours each to help with envelope stuffing, canvasser kit packing and various other light administrative duties.

“We call her “eagle eye” because she catches every error she comes across. Without Marilyn, the hours of work we would have to do would be phenomenal.  She is invaluable to the Campaign Department ”. - Sharron Nixon, Heart Fund Campaign Lead.

Marilyn’s first volunteer experience was with Bethal Christian Academy, she
is now a regular part time employee there. She became interested in volunteering with the Heart and Stroke Foundation when she found out that it would give her valuable experience working in an office. Her goal is to work in an office someday where she could utilize the skills that she has attained with her experience here.

What keeps a volunteer engaged for such a long time? For Marilyn it is the staff and fellow volunteers that she works with. “I feel relaxed and comfortable when I come to volunteer here” says Marilyn. The staff at HSFA Calgary certainly feels the same way about Marilyn.

“Marilyn is definitely an asset and an important part of our campaign. Any jobs Marilyn has been asked to do have been done in a timely fashion and done correctly. She has saved us hours in counting badges, etc. Cold weather, hot weather, stormy weather or having to get buses doesn’t keep Marilyn from her Heart and Stroke jobs. She is someone who we all care for and love". - Carol Cloney, Stroke Fund Campaign Lead.

Marilyn is proud of her contributions, especially her keen sense of detail. There have been many occasions when Marilyn has caught spelling mistakes or incomplete addresses in the work that she does. Without her, these mistakes would have gone un-noticed.

Since our move to the new office we have found a space and desk that Marilyn can now call her own, a small token of appreciation for the years of time that she has generously donated to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. We are lucky to have such a dedicated and devoted member of our volunteer team working alongside with us!

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Dr. Kenneth Sauer - Medicine Hat, Alberta

A dedicated Heart and Stroke Foundation volunteer for more than 15 years, Ken Sauer started out working on the Foundation’s residential campaigns with his wife and is the Past Chairman of the Business Campaign in Medicine Hat.

As a former Alderman of the City of Medicine Hat Council for 24 years and Superintendent of Schools, Ken’s connections to, and influence in the community are strong. He believes in the importance of building a healthy city and is working hard to contribute to the health and well being of the people in Medicine Hat. So whether he is devoting his time to fundraising for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, or promoting health education and recreation projects, Ken is thought of locally as a “Man in Motion.”

A very active volunteer in Medicine Hat, Ken has received awards for his service. But, he says, “I volunteer to give something back to the community – to help raise funds and build awareness for a good cause. The research that Heart and Stroke has been doing really pays off in the long run and I just want to do what I can to help them raise some funds.”  

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Erin Wilde of

Erin Wilde is the midday host at Calgary's New Kool 101-5. She has helped the Heart and Stroke Foundation by turning on her microphone and urging listeners to volunteer. Erin is very aware of the power of "social media"....with that, she has used her Facebook and Twitter accounts to spread the word for the need of volunteers too. When she was in her 20's, she met a fellow "20 something" female, who had a stroke while driving her car. It was after meeting this girl, that Erin learned that one of the common misconceptions with both stroke AND heart disease, is that they only happen to elderly.


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Nelly Rubiano - Accounting Volunteer

Nelly is originally from Columbia and volunteered at the Heart and Stroke in Prince George, BC before joining us here at the Provincial office in the accounting department. While volunteering she worked with advanced features of excel and Navision and felt that when she completed a task within the accounting team that she was supporting the financial success of the Foundation. Eventhough, accounting  could be viewed by some as a 'backroom position', Nelly understood how her work and the work of others at the HSF accomplished the mission of the organisation. She describes the accounting and provincial staff as being welcomming and she feels that because of her experience as an accounting volunteer she got many insights into the proffession. There are many reasons why Nelly descided to volunteer for the Heart and Stroke and one of them is the fact that he father had his first heart attack when he was 25 and when he was 60 he had a heart valve replacement. Thereafter, he made many lifestyle changes that led to his living an active and healthier life at an older age.


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Joyce Li - Youth Leader

Joyce leads a busy life which includes attending Westmount Charter School (enrolled in Gifted program), volunteering at her school, playing piano, Chinese school and VOLUNTEERING AT THE HEART AND STROKE. Some of the volunteer hours are actually for school which works out great, but she continued to volunteer at HSF even after her hours were done. She says it's sometimes hard finding balance between school and extracurricular activities but she loves so many things about volunteering with HSF that she makes the time. Joyce enjoys the staff who are friendly and give her tasks that challenge her and keep her from being bored. She says she has gained social, time management and work skills. She enjoys the difference she makes when canvassing and helping out on Bank/kit return day where she see's the community come together and support a cause. The child came out of her and everyone else when volunteering at the Big Bike end event where people got to ride the Big Bike and were squirtting water guns at each other. Joyce beleives that her grandfather would not have had such a good life and lived as long without HSF research. Heart disease was prominent in her grandfather's life and this is her way of giving back. 

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