National Volunteer Week Profile: Martin Minville

Topics: National, Quebec, Volunteer
April 10, 2015

This week, the Canadian Red Cross celebrates all volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 12-18, 2015.

Martin Minville has been a Red Cross volunteer for five years. Since day one, he has taken on the great responsibility of Team Leader and rallied the Rimouski volunteer team. He has put together a dedicated team he can count on during emergency responses.

Thanks to his very supportive wife, who is also a Red Cross volunteer, Martin is able to balance work, family, and an active lifestyle. He entrusts her with his pager, which is used to notify him of disasters, while he runs. Their three children, aged 11, 14, and 16, also take an active role in their parents’ volunteering. “The first time my wife and I were called to respond to a disaster, my daughter - the youngest of the three - took it upon herself to take care of her brothers and make sandwiches for dinner,” said Martin.

Because Martin works in IT, he is accustomed to listening to, understanding, and helping solve people’s problems. His involvement with the Red Cross has helped him develop team management skills and put his problem-solving talents to work. “Every disaster I respond to is different, but the goal is always the same - make sure that people leave with a smile.”

Managing a team requires a great deal of diplomacy and compromise. When children have been affected by a disaster, the Red Cross gives them stuffed animals — so they have something to hold on to despite having lost everything. “If my wife and I are both called to a disaster site where there are children, she’s the one who gives out the stuffed animals. I’m not allowed. It’s our deal,” he laughs.

Volunteering with the Red Cross helps Martin feel useful and make an immediate difference in people’s lives. “Big disasters get splashed all over the news. A residential fire might not make headlines, but for the people affected, it’s huge; their world is falling apart. No disaster is more important than another.”

His first management experience was at a shelter during the Richelieu River flooding in May 2011. “The first person I had to help was elderly and alone. When she sat down in front of me, she started to cry. It was incredibly touching. Luckily, a colleague came to lend me a hand and we were able to help the woman. It was truly a team effort.”

Although the work can be demanding and require him to make choices, Martin intends to continue volunteering for a long time. Ever since he joined the Scouts, he has wanted to get involved and help others. The opportunity to take concrete action and make an immediate difference is what drew him to the Red Cross. “After each response, we write up a team report. It’s at that moment that we realize the importance of our response and feel truly proud of what we have accomplished.”

It is because of volunteers like Martin, that the Canadian Red Cross is able to deliver services to the most vulnerable communities from coast to coast across Canada.

Thank you, Martin.