David Schulz traded in his hockey skates in pursuit of something bigger than himself.
The former professional hockey player, born and raised in Winkler to a social worker father and a nurse mother, wants to follow in their footsteps and help others in the community find the road to success.
Schulz has been playing hockey since the age of 16. For the last four years, he has been playing professionally in the ECHL and AHL for teams such as the Utah Grizzlies, Lake Erie Monsters, Rochester Americans, Johnston Chiefs and yes, even our beloved departed Manitoba Moose. But he always had another dream lurking in the back of his mind. He wanted to become a police officer before the age of 30.
So at 26, he's returned to Manitoba to pursue another career, one that involves serving and protecting the community. Though he is just beginning to take his first course on the long road to becoming a police officer -- working full-time delivering propane for Caledon Propane on the side -- Schulz knew it was important to start giving back to the community right away.
"When I played hockey, from the age of 16 we were always volunteering in the communities where we would play," says Schulz. "Whether it was visiting the Children's Hospital, preparing food baskets for Christmas, etc., I knew that just because I stopped playing hockey didn't mean I had to stop volunteering."
Schulz says when he was younger, he was a personal trainer at Elite Performance, and as a group they had once volunteered at the Siloam Mission. So when he returned to Manitoba, he knew right away where he wanted to volunteer his time.
"It's an amazing environment to work in," says Schulz about volunteering at Siloam Mission. "The energy and attitude, it's contagious. The people who work and volunteer there will do anything to help people out."
Siloam Mission, located downtown on Princess Street, offers programs and services at no charge for individuals experiencing homelessness, including daily nutritious meals, clothing and hygiene items, a drop-in shelter, emergency shelter, health-care centre, employment training programs, referral services, transitional support, spiritual guidance (they are a Christian humanitarian agency) and arts programs.
Schulz has been volunteering at Siloam Mission every other Saturday since February.
Lindsay Smith, director of volunteer services for Siloam Mission, describes Schulz as a "young, healthy athlete who has been dedicated to serving our inner city. He volunteers in food services and connects one on one with patrons in our clothing room."
Schulz finds working in the clothing room, an area where patrons are able to come in and have access to clothing, such as warm winter boots and jackets, as well as hygiene products, especially rewarding. While working with patrons to find the perfect-fitting pair of pants or jacket to keep warm during this blustery winter season, he says he finds connection with others.
"When I go in there, I try to make a positive impact," says Schulz. "The two things I do is be kind to others and listen longer. Some people are going through tough times and they just want someone to talk to. A lot of times I just listen, but I sometimes try to give advice, too. You know no matter how dark the road is, there is always hope."
Schulz says he strongly encourages people to find the time to volunteer in their community. "There are amazing things happening at Siloam Mission," he says, "I think it's extremely important to make the time to help out others. Everybody can make some time in their lives."
If you know a special volunteer who strives to make his or her community a better place to live, please contact Carolyn Shimmin at firstname.lastname@example.org