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Helping the community a family affair

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She does it because her mother did it. Her daughter does it because she does it. Now, almost all the Ferris family volunteers with MTS Volunteers. 

Joan Ferris, of Riverview, and her family, were awarded MTS Volunteers 75th Anniversary Outstanding Volunteer Award.

Joan has been volunteering for 25 years, and she said it comes naturally.

"You’re giving back to the community and I think that’s what being a good citizen or being a good Winnipegger (is about)," said Joan. "My mom always said, she worked at the hospital for years, she said the hospital wouldn’t run without volunteers. I really think that half the things wouldn’t get done without volunteers all the events that go on."

Tanis Ferris, Joan’s daughter, said she seems to receive the call of duty from her mom the most.

"She usually calls and asked ‘hey you want to do this with me, or just says ‘hey you’re doing this with me,’" said Tanis.

 She has seen her mom volunteer and knows why she does it and makes her family do it.

"You lead by example," said Tanis to her mother. "Grandma used to volunteer for a number of years, and you saw what joy she got out of it, and you volunteered because of that."

Ferris has recruited much of her family to help her volunteer, including her husband, twin sister, brother-in-law, two daughters, son-in-law, and even her 18-month-old grandson.

Even before Joan worked at MTS in the Customer Payment Service as a customer service representative, she volunteered canvassing, at Sunday School, and a daycare board.

"You wouldn’t do it if you didn’t love it," said Joan. "Volunteering you meet such wonderful people, we’ve met people that are almost part of our family now."

One of Joan’s favourite things to do while volunteering is clowning. She and six others make up MTS Volunteer’s Clown Alley. She loves clowning because she becomes a different person.

"You can interact with adults and children on a different level," said Joan. "We make balloon animals, and we face paint, and it really is a lot of fun."

The event that means the most to Joan is the Christmas dinner.

"I love it, I love it, I love it," said Joan. "We’re there at 9 o’clock in the morning and all go around this big table with our peelers."

"We peel 200 pounds of potatoes," said Tanis. "And 75 pounds of carrots."

By the end of the day, Joan and the other MTS Volunteers feed more than 300 people, making sure every child leaves with presents. 

Volunteering at the Christmas Dinner makes Joan realize how privileged her family is.

"We are so lucky that we live where we do. We live in a safe environment and there are so many people out there . . . like the dinner at Christmas," Joan said. "At the end of the night, we get hugs and thank yous and ‘are you coming back next year?’ We’ve watched some of those kids grow up."

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