Volunteer spotlight: Carole Ann O’Connell

News & Updates | January 26, 2024 | Sarah Dobec

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A headshot of Carole Ann

Carole Ann stumbled across Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC) because of her curiosity. “I had heard about Dignitas in Switzerland, but I didn’t know too much about assisted dying in Canada, so I decided to look it up and came across the Dying With Dignity Canada website.” 

Her first interaction with our organization was through a donation and then after receiving a newsletter update, she learned about a new program called Death Dialogues that piqued her interest. “The facilitators were excellent, and we talked about different topics such as legacy projects and good deaths. It was a safe space and people shared all kinds of information. Many of the participants had done a great deal more thinking about death than I had, so I took it all in, like a sponge.” 

Not too soon after her Death Dialogues sessions, Carole Ann came across a Facebook post from DWDC about volunteering and she reached out about the opportunities. After the onboarding process, Carol Ann was tasked with being a Thank You Caller. 

“It was one of the most wonderful experiences. Initially, people were surprised that I was calling just to say thank you, but once we got past that I had some real and heartfelt conversations with some of the monthly donors we were calling.” 

The thank you calling program is part of our Development and Fundraising team’s strategy to engage donors beyond donation appeals. It allows us to learn more about the people in our community and have meaningful conversations about the work we do. 

“Some conversations were short, and people were grateful, but I had some really special interactions with the folks on my list. One caller mentioned that her monthly donation would be ending soon and went onto explain that it was because she was having a MAID provision in two days. I was blown away, but she was at peace with her decision, and she was delighted to be thanked. Many of the donors had a personal connection to MAID, and those that had attended a MAID provision all referred to the dignity, the peace and the personal choice the person had. Not surprisingly, a majority of the people I spoke to want legal advance requests for MAID; it is clearly important to many people.” 

We are so grateful for the people who choose to give of their time to DWDC; at the time of writing this blog post there were over 275 DWDC volunteers across the country. Each one brings their passion and expertise to the role they take on. When we asked Carole Ann about her advice to those who are considering a volunteer role, her curiosity rang through, “For those who are considering volunteering, I suggest looking for the ‘need’ in your community and then finding a skill you can bring to the organization to help them with their mission.” 

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