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2022 Volunteer of Distinction Award – Yasmina Mashmoushi

  April 18, 2023


Greater Toronto Area, ON


GTA Support Group Facilitator

1. How did you start volunteering with the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada?

I started volunteering for the foundation in 2019. I knew I wanted to work directly with people in a way that merged my interests in psychology and neuroscience. As the GTA Support Group Facilitator, I have the opportunity to support individuals during their most vulnerable moments. Being a neuroscience student, I also wanted to learn more about the complex medical pathology of the disease and its psychosocial effects on mental health.

2. What is your fondest memory of volunteering with us?

There isn’t one specific memory that stands out more than another. There were countless instances in the past four years when support group members exhibited powerful empathy, laughed together in the face of adversity, shared perceptive insights, and alleviated each other’s distress and tears. I have learned much from our support group discussions, which spanned coping with physical and cognitive changes, managing anxiety and depression, and making difficult medical decisions. However, my fondest part of volunteering has been witnessing several friendships bloom in the support group environment. Although I cannot choose a memory, I am left with warmth, empathy, understanding, and human connection.

3. This year’s theme for volunteer week is how volunteering weaves us together and connects us. What does this theme mean to you? (You can see more HERE)

Volunteering continually reminds me that we are working towards the shared human goal of attaining a more equitable and prosperous global community. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how inextricably linked people across the country and globe are and has affirmed that we must each do our part if we want to dream of a more promising future. Volunteering is a way to do my part to help carve out the end. Volunteering is our collective fight for the changes we believe in–changes that make our community more prosperous for everyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or ability.

4. What’s the best advice you have given or someone has given you?

Immediately, I think of something Albert Camus, the philosopher, pensively wrote in Return to Tipasa: “Amid winter, I found there was within me an invincible summer.” Everyone may interpret this quote differently, but it speaks of uncovering a resilience that burns within you during times of adversity. Support group discussions have shown me that no matter how difficult things get, something stronger within us can fight back. Amid despair and hardship, we can still find love, laughter, empathy, strength, hope, and calm. Adversity seems like an unexpected place to unearth these strengths, but I have found that it is precisely the arena in which they reveal themselves the most. Sometimes, there are beautiful things you can derive from adversity–you have to look for them.