Thousands of volunteers give generously of their time to support St John Ambulance across the country each and every year. But some distinguish themselves through extraordinary loyalty and achievements. Today, the Peel Dufferin Branch would like to recognize the efforts of one such example: Marc Dexter Memorial Scholarship recipient Chris Brooks. Jason Repovs of our board of directors recently sat down with him to learn about his experience with St John Ambulance.
J: It’s great to meet you Chris! So tell me, where do you go to school, and what are you studying there?
C: I graduated from Sheridan College with a diploma in Community and Justice Services back in 2016. Then I started working full-time, but I always wanted to go back to school for a degree. So I applied to University of Guelph-Humber for a degree in Justice & Public Safety. Because of by diploma and work experience, I was able to get fast-tracked, and will graduate with my degree at end of this year.
J: That’s great to hear! And how long have you been volunteering with St. John Ambulance?
C: I started back in March of 2013. I started as part of the Medical First Responder (MFR) team in Mississauga, then added the Youth Leadership team to my responsibilities. Finally, on top of both, I also spent time serving the Outreach & Education unit. Things have since quieted down a bit, relatively speaking, and now I’m focused on the MFR team once again, while also serving as a First Aid instructor.
J: Wow, so you’re coming up on 10 years with the organization then, that’s incredible. So what led you to want to get involved with St John Ambulance back in 2013?
C: I was working with someone who was volunteering with the MFR team. They were exploring getting into various programs – paramedics, law, and so on. They spoke very highly of SJA as a way to help with that career path while giving back to the community, so I went to an info session… and the rest, as they say, is history.
J: Ah yes, the info session – funny enough, that’s how I got my start volunteering with SJA as well. Now tell me, how has volunteering with SJA impacted you personally?
C: I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and work with some incredible individuals across many different lines of work through SJA. It’s been amazing getting to know them and hearing about their life experiences. Volunteering across a number of different teams, I’ve also had some great networking opportunities, one of which even helped me into my current career path. My SJA experience has opened up doors and opportunities that I might not even have known existed otherwise. Everyone knows that SJA is helpful if you’re interested in being a paramedic, or nursing, or whatever. But I’m in Government Services, and I continue to learn new skills and find my experience enriching despite not being in any of the “traditional” disciplines that SJA feeds into.
J: That’s a powerful personal story. Have you found that volunteering with St John Ambulance has given you some transferable skills?
C: Oh definitely. I’ve had a chance to build and refine my leadership skills, communication skills, resiliency, crisis management, and so on. I’ve even been able to hone my project management and organizational skills, since my experience with SJA includes organizing and executing SJA’s presence at multi-day live events.
J: That’s a great list, and not at all surprising given your vast experience. Now as you think about those who might be looking to follow in your footsteps, do you have any advice to offer other youth who might be thinking about volunteering their time?
C: If you’re not sure, just come to an info session. It’s a lot easier to get involved than you might think, and it’s incredibly rewarding. You’ll grow and develop in ways you couldn’t have imagined, and work with some amazing individuals along the way.
J: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me Chris, and all the best as you wrap up your degree this year!