Award-winner has public service in her blood
‘Almost every single time I volunteer, I feel like I leave with another story that’s so impactful’
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A University of Manitoba science student is being recognized for her dedication to Canadian Blood Services.
Emily Kalo is the recipient of one of eight Premier’s Volunteer Service Awards handed out last month as part of the 39th Annual Volunteer Awards presented by Volunteer Manitoba and Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corp.
The award recognizes Kalo’s work as a founding member of the NextGen Lifeline program at Canadian Blood Services. NextGen teams are made up of high school and university students who recruit blood donors.
“For (Canadian Blood Services) to take the time to nominate me, and for Volunteer Manitoba to select me among many other deserving candidates, is a huge honour,” says Kalo, who is in her final year of a degree in bio-psychology.
The 21-year-old Tuxedo resident joined NextGen in 2015 and currently serves as vice-president of her team. Her responsibilities include training new members, working with other members to brainstorm and create new initiatives, planning special events, leading projects and managing social media.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kalo and her fellow NextGen volunteers would set up in public spaces to promote blood donations, distribute information and answer questions.
When the pandemic started, Kalo came up with innovative ways to recruit donors, including posting video of her own donation experience on social media.
“I keep volunteering with Canadian Blood Services because it’s something where even if you have just an hour to give, it makes a big difference,” she says, adding that she enjoys meeting and working with a diverse array of people.
“Being able to hear individual people’s stories, whether it’s about how they needed blood or one of their loved ones needed blood, is meaningful. Almost every single time I volunteer, I feel like I leave with another story that’s so impactful.”
In addition to Canadian Blood Services, Kalo volunteers with Shinerama, which raises money for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. She is the general co-ordinator and public relations director for 5 Days for the Homeless, a national campaign that raises awareness about youth homelessness, and she volunteers with the Science Students’ Association at the U of M.
Canadian Blood Services staff nominated Kalo for the Premier’s Volunteer Service Award because of the effect she has had on donor recruitment in Winnipeg.
Kalo has attended dozens of events, shared hundreds of social media posts and connected Canadian Blood Services with other organizations. She has also recruited and trained new NextGen volunteers, who then go out and make their own contributions to Canadian Blood Services.
“She’s one of our most dedicated volunteers,” says Brett Lawrence, the organization’s community development manager, who describes Kalo as a welcoming person who approaches everything she does with compassion.
“She’s really just a natural-born leader and we’re extremely grateful to her for giving seven years of her time to us.”
Kalo and the rest of this year’s Volunteer Awards recipients will be celebrated during a one-hour broadcast airing on CTV Saturday at 7 p.m.
Kalo, who enjoys spending her free time with her friends and her dog, Bader (named after the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg), says receiving the award has inspired her.
“It’s motivating me to do even more for Winnipeg,” she says. “We have such a vibrant volunteer community here.”
Canadian Blood Services is looking for high school and university students to join its NextGen Lifeline program. Visit blood.ca/volunteering for details.
If you know a special volunteer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.