Meet Patricia: a committed and passionate Cystic Fibrosis Canada employee, a mother of two, and a lover of all things 90-Day Fiancé. From her days at the Canadian Cancer Society, Patricia has worked in the non-profit sector for over 11 years and is currently the Regional Executive Director, Ontario, for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. She works closely with staff and volunteers across the province on events, fundraisers and chapter-relations. When she’s not at work, you can find Patricia spending time with her family, friends, and her trusty side-kick (who happens to be a bichon-poodle) Charlie.
What would you like the Cystic Fibrosis Canada community to know about you?
I began to work in the non-profit world 11 years ago and immediately knew that I had found my niche where we work towards our mission rather than working solely focused on monetary gains. I have two adult children, ages 23 and 20, who, like most children of fundraisers, have found themselves volunteering at these events over the years – stuffing envelopes and in one case, donning water shoes to pick up change people dropped when they were thrown into a water feature at a Daffodil Month event when I was at Canadian Cancer Society. Working from home has meant that my very hyper, poorly behaved bichon-poodle, Charlie, has become my workmate who now waits patiently until he hears me say goodbye on Zoom calls (and then immediately is by my side asking for a treat). I consider myself blessed to be able to work with the staff and volunteers that are part of our Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Ontario team.
Can you tell us your connection to the disease?
I do not have a personal connection to cystic fibrosis (CF). However, when I was in the hiring process, I met a volunteer with two daughters with CF, and from that moment on I knew I was committed to working towards a cure or control for CF. I called HR to debrief and said, “If I don’t get this job, I want to find out how to volunteer”. Thankfully I got the job and have formed many connections to those in the CF community who are amongst the most dedicated, selfless people I have ever met. It is easy to motivate myself when I think of the children, the adults and the families who are going above and beyond when dealing with CF – doing treatments, going to clinic visits, and living with restrictions since long before COVID. And yet, they still show up to volunteer, fundraise and advocate. It is truly an inspirational community, and I am honoured to be able to play even a small part in it.
Can you tell us a bit about your role at CF Canada and how long you’ve been with the organization?
I am the Regional Executive Director, Ontario and have been with CF Canada for 3 ½ years. My role is to work with staff and volunteers throughout the province on events, fundraising, chapter relations and to be a resource for staff and volunteers in Ontario.
What has been your favourite experience / memory working at CF Canada?
There are so many that it is truly hard to choose. Some of my favourite memories are:
- Attending the Kiss CF Goodbye fundraiser and hearing the organizer’s daughter who has CF, belt out Black Velvet more powerfully than most people with perfectly functioning lungs;
- Having our coordinator for Lawn Summer Nights march into Brantford City Hall with her daughter who has CF and asking them if they could expedite the onerous raffle application process to enable us to make a difference for her child who stood before them and walking out minutes later with the licence;
- Attending CF clinic at CHEO with a brother and sister from North Bay to see firsthand how rigorous those visits can be especially for one parent having to take two children, one of whom was terrified of blood tests and the other who couldn’t wait for the blood test;
- Finally, going to my first Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History in London and having the Walk Coordinator’s 8-year-old daughter tell me proudly that everyone was there to support her because she has CF and seeing her joy at being part of the annual event.
What does it mean to #GoFurtherfor cystic fibrosis?
To #GoFurtherFor cystic fibrosis means never giving up. When there is a positive development, take a moment to celebrate and then move on to figure out next steps for how we can keep going. We can’t let up until all people with CF have the chance to live their lives fully and eventually live without CF. I attended a Health Partners presentation with one volunteer who stated that she was about 8 or 9 years old when she learned that CF was a fatal genetic disease as that was when she learned to read – from that moment on, my mission has been to make sure that one day when a child learns to read they will read that CF used to be a fatal disease.
What motivates you at work?
All of the stories above motivate me at work, but in addition, the staff team that I work with motivates me because every single person is giving 100% or more all of the time. Having one team member who has experienced a loss in her family due to CF, we are all laser focused on our goals and what each decision and step that we take means to our mission to end CF so that other families do not experience the loss that she did. Working remotely has actually brought us closer to our colleagues working in the other regions (Atlantic, Quebec, Alberta, Prairies and BC/ Yukon we have come together to be more efficient and effective while collaborating on existing events like the Walk while also launching new fundraisers like Quest4CF, our socially distanced family scavenger hunt created specifically because of the pandemic.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
Outside of work, I am passionate about my family, my dog, 90 Day Fiancé and all of its spin-offs. Much to the dismay of our President and CEO, Kelly Grover, I have spent countless hours doing puzzles over the course of the lockdowns. I am a Pisces and so I love being by the water which means I am very much looking forward to the chance to be in the Caribbean again sometime soon. I may also have an unhealthy obsession with the descendants of Princess Diana and am trying to curb my love of celebrity gossip.