Giving to a community that gives so much in return: Meet volunteers Diane Girard and Laura Isidean

Meet DianeDiane Girard

After saving a man from drowning, Diane Gerard immediately understood the significance of her learnings and teachings with the Red Cross.
Diane Girard plays a big role in the annual volunteer conference,  Ontario Connects.
“It’s really great to see volunteers from all across Ontario come and share, network, and realize that even though they’re in different programs, they all share that one Red Cross mission in helping people,” said Diane. Although the work can be quite time-consuming behind the scenes, especially going virtual in the last couple years, the pay-off has been well worth it, she says. “You stay up late, you network, you talk to people, you don't get much sleep, and it is such a wonderful thing.”
Diane’s introduction to the Canadian Red Cross was as a water safety instructor when she was a teenager when she spent her summers teaching children how to swim. These skills have stayed with her ever since.
“I’m not really big on going to the beach with my kids all the time because I always scan the water, it’s just something I always do,” said Diane.
Diane's watchful nature and vigilance saved a life during a family outing nearly three decades ago in Algonquin Park.
“There was a 65-year-old man that was in the shallow end… and all of a sudden I heard a young kid saying, look Mommy, Grandpa's doing the dead man's float!”  In a heartbeat, Diane recognized that the man was indeed unconscious and her training in water safety kicked in. With swift action, she jumped in and rescued him. “I was able to use my skills to save him. Quite cool that with your training, you could make a difference - and I did.”
Driven by a deep-seated passion for helping others, Diane has committed her life to making a positive impact through her philanthropic work with the Red Cross, starting with water safety and first aid training, then eventually moving into governance, and leading various councils.
“I really like the fact that I can still offer something because I've been around a long time. I can be your local historian if you'd like, and tell you what happened in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. But I can also add something to the present time, which I think is really great”.
In addition to supporting the Ontario Connects conference, Diane is involved with the learning and development leadership program - hosting various webinars online, and assisting with the onboarding and orientation, all while being a mentor to fellow volunteers.
Diane continuously emphasizes her passion for mentoring and coaching others. "I think the future of Red Cross is with the youth," Diane says, "and they are really enthusiastic in their desire to help promote the Canadian Red Cross mission."
Diane encourages anyone to take the leap to volunteer with Red Cross. Diane is confident that the Red Cross can provide the appropriate training for any task, enabling volunteers to make a meaningful impact - “you gotta put your toe in the water first, and then if you like the temperature, you can wade in.”
Meet LauraLaura Isidean

After two decades of being immersed in the world of finance, Laura Isidean made a conscious decision to pivot towards the world of philanthropy.

Laura Isidean is excited about the upcoming Ontario Connects conference. As the emcee in recent years, Laura is a familiar face and voice to many Red Crossers. She also spends countless hours behind the scenes to help plan the event to ensure it is a success.

“Ontario Connects is very memorable. Anything that we can do to foster engagement amongst the broader volunteer population, to me, is time well spent,” she said.

Laura has been a volunteer at the Canadian Red Cross since 2015 and comes to Red Cross after spending more than 20 years honing her leadership skills in the fast-paced and demanding world of global banking and capital markets. Her expertise has led her to take on high-level roles, where she developed a reputation as a trusted and effective leader. However, Laura's passion lies with making a positive impact within her community, prompting her to pivot her career to the realm of volunteer advisory and engagement. Since then, Laura has been leveraging her experience and knowledge to help organizations achieve their missions and contribute to meaningful causes - leading her to the Canadian Red Cross.

Laura’s introduction to Canadian Red Cross was in the spring of 2015 when she accepted an advisory role working with the Toronto branch. She enjoyed it so much, she continued to learn all she could about Red Cross and looked for other opportunities. 
“I could accept that this role, at the end of this year, is going to come to an end, or I can learn as much as I can about the Canadian Red Cross and figure out where else I can contribute,” she said. Laura learned that the Red Cross is constantly changing, adapting, evolving, to meet the needs of the people we serve - so she decided to continue her journey with the organization.
Laura's commitment to the organization is evident in her involvement in various initiatives with the Tiffany Circle - a group of women donors within the Canadian Red Cross with a mandate to support the hard work of the Red Cross. Through the Tiffany Circle, Laura is a member of the National Steering Committee where she supports the Canadian Red Cross's mission by acting as an ambassador, raising awareness about the current initiatives in our communities. Laura has been able to participate in project-based volunteer work, such as running disaster preparedness workshops and promoting community health programs.
Laura believes that anyone looking to volunteer can find an opportunity at the Canadian Red Cross.

“There is a tremendous source of support for anyone who wants to develop certain skills or learn about different programs that they may not directly be involved in. So, I think that's the beauty of the organization, particularly when you look at volunteers, we all come from such different perspectives - and when you bring all that together, it's pretty powerful.”
To learn more about volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross, go to

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