She’s a force to be reckoned with. Her undying passion for sports and her belief in creating an effective environment for children to learn and grow makes Laurie Lamarche an inspirational volunteer at the Toronto Jane & Finch chapter of HEROS. Growing up as a “Base brat” Laurie joined every sport that she could to keep her on the right track in life and has personally reaped the positive impact sports has on youth. Many years later and after raising her own family a mutual friend suggested volunteering at HEROS and now, 10 years later, she feels so connected to the program that she’s “just like a mum all over again” when she sees the HEROS participants “go on to postgraduate school and come to help out with the younger children.”
Laurie focuses her volunteering efforts on children. “[I] love that audience. They’re forgiving, they’re not judgmental, they’re quick learners, so HEROS was the perfect program for me,” she explained. As a former figure skater, she works with our Future Stars that come to the program and teaches them how to skate, rather than working with our All-Stars, “But that’s only because I’m not a big hockey player, I’m a big hockey fan, so I’m trying to teach them the basics.” One of her favourite moments with every child is seeing them skate the width of the ice without falling, “I think just being able to say ‘I can skate’ or ‘I can play hockey’ it’s something they’ve accomplished and they feel proud.” She returns to HEROS over and over again because it helps “raise children in the right way” and “instills self-esteem, respect and disciple at a young age,” which is something that they can “carry forward” at their schools and within their communities.
Laurie pays particular attention to the girls in the program because she wants them to know that competitive sports is for everyone and “it transcends the sexes when you play a sport that everybody could do.” She wants to engage them and help them realize that it’s ok if they fall, but it’s important that they get up. “It’s really important to me to get the girls into this, they learn a skill, they learn respect, and they have something to do and keeps them busy,” she described. The extra effort Laurie and the volunteers make towards the girls shows: they had the largest number of girls sign up across all HEROS chapters in Canada in 2018.
She is adamant that what she does is not hard work, “I’m just at the end, the easy end, of delivering and working with these wonderful children. These kids are here because they want to be here,” she explained. Her commitment to HEROS is unwavering, even answering our questions for this article while getting ready for her next HEROS session! It is because of volunteers like Laurie that HEROS is able to have a positive impact on the boys and girls in our program and we are thankful to have such a positive and impactful human being working with us. Thank you Laurie!