Volunteering at United Way, I feel valuable

Like many other women in the world, I was looking for a better life — one in which I am not discriminated against, a situation where I can plan for my future and follow my dreams. With these ambitions in mind, I emigrated from Iran.

Being an immigrant woman, all alone by myself in this new city, I was feeling frustrated and helpless. I had no relatives and friends to count on and even no job to make me feel stable economically. Then I got to know about United Way through a friend and I started volunteering in the marketing/communications department of this organization. From the very first day, I fell in love with United Way. Dr. Lucy Miller, the CEO and president, came to present the company herself to me and a group of new employees. How friendly she was! In my country of origin, you never had the chance to visit the CEO. If it ever happened, it would be by reserving an appointment weeks prior. Besides, he would never spend his time talking about the company when somebody else could do the task. Thanks to Lucy, I had this impression that as a volunteer, I am precious to the organization. It made me feel valuable.

The second day, the marketing/communication director jumped into my office chatting about different topics without even mentioning that he is the big boss. I was touched with this feeling of equality. No matter what your title is, no matter if you are new or you have been there for a while, you are respected as best as possible.

Little by little I got to know other colleagues; all of them so nice and friendly. They all showed enthusiasm for my contributions as a volunteer. Not only their friendly manner impressed me, but also the fact that they are all professionals that have brought their personal and professional knowledge to the table to support others. They are all such kind-hearted folks who strive to build a great city for everyone. Being among them, I can feel how their hearts beat for all Calgarians from any background and age.

I’m proud that I am in Calgary where I can find these lovely people. And I’m happy and satisfied that I am volunteering for United Way. Thank you, United Way, for letting me be your team member and tasting the satisfaction of helping others.

—Nasim Khatibi is a communications advisor, and a volunteer at United Way of Calgary and Area