I am a firm believer in Volunteering - of giving back to your community, to a cause you believe in, to an organization you support, to a student who wants to grow, to a Team to better your workplace experiences... whatever it is that you choose to support with your time, ideas, experience, talent, skills or hands-on labour, will inevitably leave you with exposure to new ideas and new networks and an appreciation for the strength that comes in teamwork and of the talents that volunteers bring to the table... making anything possible!
There are a number of organizations that I have worked with during my lifetime and it is safe to say that I have held just about every role from Press Reporter to President beginning at an early age in 4-H... that followed with volunteer presentations as a Dairy Princess and Fall Fair Queen... Eventually, community activities caught my interest and I eagerly joined a tiny group of people with a huge amount of spirit, drive and ambition in the development of our Kincardine Scottish Festival. Despite the odds against us - 15 years later - our Festival is stronger than ever - in fact, it recently won an award! And then there was a whole summer spent with my husband - both of us working full time while project managing a double build for Habitat for Humanity with 200+ volunteers and limited experience - in fact, I can still remember pouring cement and raking sidewalks at midnight to prepare for an open house the next day, and the list goes on... I am sure that you and your families too have similar stories to tell!
Volunteering helps us grow - it helps us appreciate the organizations we believe in, the communities that we live in, the people that we work with. Today, in addition to actively volunteering as a Mentor at the University of Western Ontario - something that I have truly enjoyed - and participating in a rural Women's Institute Organization for the past 30 years, I was recently honoured to be elected to the position of Director of Events for WFIM (Women in Food Industry Management) - a role I have eagerly embraced and look forward to growing in!
WFIM - Women in Food Industry Management (www.wfim.ca) is an organization that I became familiar with in 2009 through a friend in the Food Industry who suggested I might like to attend an event. I was delighted to be invited and eager to learn about the organization. The first session I attended had me at the "get-go" so-to-speak - in fact, I even blogged about it, I was so impressed at the time! (http://www.emccanada.org/blogs/emcfoodsec/learningth)... Needless to say, I've attended several sessions since that first meeting, have met countless wonderful people and learned so much in the process.
So who is WFIM - well, this is an organization that is dedicated to supporting professionals to become "The Best Women at the Table" by encouraging advancement through networking and executive development. It's Board is guided by common goals - to support women in our field, to connect them for their mutual benefit, and to help them develop into what we like to call "The Best Women at the Table". There are close to 200 Members from all facets of the food industry (CEO's, Sales, Marketing, HR, Food Safety, Services, etc.) with representation in Ontario and Quebec.
We host special events featuring topics of interest, book reviews, culinary sessions, tours, roundtable networking academies, gala's and a golf tournament - and, we always provide ample time to network with one another! My favourite tour to date has to be at SCM (Supply Chain Management) - watching that distribution centre in action left me in awe and hearing about their best practices in sustainability and employee engagement - had me scratching notes frantically in an effort to learn all that I could. And also, without a doubt, I am a solid supporter of the Roundtable Networking Academy Event that runs every fall - this is an incredible opportunity to connect with industry leaders on leadership principles, self-development and careers in the food sector and business in general.
As the new Director of Events, I am humbled by the opportunity to work with a talented Team of ladies with a variety of backgrounds and experience all relating to the food industry. Together with the Board of Directors, we are looking forward to showcasing some interesting subject matter over the next couple of years and we welcome anyone with an interest in taking part to join in on the fun! And yes, men are welcome too! A glimpse at what's coming follows below!
Niagara Region Chocolate and Winery Tour - 20-Sep-13
Featuring: EMC Member - Chocolate F/X, an Opportunity to Explore Niagara-On-The-Lake, and a tour of Pilliterri Estates Winery!
Carefully crafted using artisan chocolate panning and molding techniques, Chocolate F/X - an EMC Member - provides an incredible assortment of over 85 products that can delight even the most discriminating palate. Their mission is to explore unusual taste combinations and twist the expected norms! Owners, Wilma and Art, look forward to touring you through their new production facility in St. David's, Ontario and to furthering your experience and appreciation of all things chocolate-related as you undertake the great "Chocolate Bar Challenge"! Participants will be creating their own ultimate line of chocolate bars and our wonderful "masterpieces" will be judged based on creativity, presentation and taste! It promises to be a visit filled with fun and laughter!
Our next stop, will afford us the opportunity to enjoy lunch and exploring on our own in beautiful downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake! Filled with history, this town welcomes close to a million tourists per year and features beautiful streetscapes and vistas, wonderful inns, boutique shopping, and the Shaw Festival. Ranked as one of the top ten most romantic places to visit in Canada by Reader's Digest - it's a lovely place to relax and enjoy!
Pillitteri Estates Wineryis the world's largest estate producer of Icewine. Situated in the middle of Niagara Wine Country in Niagara-On-the-Lake, Ontario, the winery opened in the summer of 1993 with a capacity to produce up to 16,000 cases. Through the years, the Winery has received many awards both nationally and internationally and production has subsequently grown from 16,000 to 100,000 cases. The Team at Pillitteri Estates Winery will be sharing the story of their wines, awards and growth. We will be touring the vineyards and production facilities and our day will be capped off with a tasting of their incredible wines - red, white and vidal!
The Power of Leverage - 10-Oct-13
Donna Messer, ConnectUs Communications Canada
An inspirational speaker, an entrepreneur, a leader, an author and one of Canada's foremost networking experts - Donna will be motivating us all as she speaks to the "Power of Leverage"!
This presentation is designed to inspire those who need to know how to build and stabilize their relationships through effective networking. Covering who-what-where-when and why to network, the participants at this interactive evening will leave with the tools they need to succeed!
4th Annual Food Regulatory & Quality Assurance Summit - 22-Oct-13
WFIM as is EMC, are both proudly supporting the 4th Annual Food Regulatory & Quality Assurance Summit. This is an excellent interactive Conference hosted by the Strategy Institute that hosts a number of speakers on issues such as: CFIA Complaints & Appeals, GMO Labelling, FSMA Updates, GFSI Compliance, Export Excellence, etc. More information is available at: www.foodregulationcanada.com.
If you would like to know more about WFIM or are interested in joining us at one of our upcoming events, please feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com! We would love to have you participate!
Yes, volunteering truly broadens your perspectives and exposure to new things. It provides you with an opportunity to enhance your team-building skills, to network with others and develop relationships, understand operational tactics, and to seek out answers perhaps in unfamiliar territories enhancing your learning experience. It builds stronger organizations like WFIM, it strengthens companies through involvement of their staff, it enhances community development, and it lends to our own individual experiences, knowledge-base and self-confidence!
I encourage you to volunteer whether for a few minutes or a few years - you will be glad you did because getting involved brings so much more back to you in so many countless ways!
All the best as always!
Sr. Community Development and Food and Beverage Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org - 519-372-6009