Two volunteers from an organization that ships medical supplies to impoverished countries have been recognized for their work.

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This article was published 30/4/2018 (1146 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Two volunteers from an organization that ships medical supplies to impoverished countries have been recognized for their work.

Valerie McIntyre and Roma Maconachie from International Hope Canada (IHC) attended a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on April 17, in which Gov. Gen. Julie Payette presented 42 volunteers from across Canada with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.

Formerly known as the Caring Canadian Award, the medal recognizes Canadians who have made significant, sustained and unpaid contributions to their community or abroad.

The event was part of National Volunteer Week, from April 15 to 21.

"It was overwhelmingly humbling," McIntyre says. "You know that there are always people out there that are doing more than you, and I think Roma and I both felt overwhelmed."

"It was thrilling," Maconachie adds. "It was just extraordinary (and) unexpected. It was wonderful."

McIntyre, a retired medical laboratory technologist, and Maconachie, a retired occupational therapist, were instrumental in starting IHC in 2001. IHC was founded on the principle that no usable piece of health-care equipment should be sent to a landfill if it can address a need somewhere around the globe.

Maconachie set up and managed the organization’s warehouse space and helped to establish crucial partnerships.

McIntyre developed the organization’s policies and procedures documents, as well as its bylaws. She was instrumental in gaining charitable status for the organization.

Both women have served as president on the IHC board and both continue to volunteer Wednesday and Saturday mornings, unpacking donated medical supplies, sorting them and getting them ready for shipment.

IHC has delivered more than 800 tons of supplies and equipment to communities in more than 40 countries.

Shipments have included everything from swabs and bandages to wheelchairs, beds, X-ray machines and an ambulance.

McIntyre, who was born in Lethbridge, Alta., and raised in Winnipeg, also volunteers with CancerCare and in her congregation at Westminster United Church.

She was inspired to start volunteering as a result of the two years she spent working in the medical field in Indonesia in her late 20s.

"I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for developing countries," she says.

Maconachie was born and raised in London and moved to Canada after graduating from college.

She has been involved in a variety of health-care organizations and considers volunteering a way to give back.

"Giving back has seemed important to me because I feel I’ve had a very fortunate life on the whole," she says.

IHC is thankful for the duo’s many contributions, vice-president Dorothy Ridd says.

"I have immense respect for these ladies and the strong leadership they provided," Ridd says.

The organization is completely run by volunteers. Anyone interested in getting involved with the organization can phone 204-774-1102 or email info@internationalhope.ca.

Both McIntyre and Maconachie cite the friendships they have formed over the years as one of the things they most enjoy about volunteering with IHC.

"The camaraderie is great," McIntyre says. "And somebody always brings cookies."

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.