By Todd Lewys
They’re a group of people who operate discretely behind the scenes in every city and town: volunteers.
These are the people who go about their business in the background, quietly – and selflessly – helping others in need.
For the most part, these change-makers – people whose efforts affect their communities in profoundly positive ways – go largely unnoticed.
That’s why the Manitoba Real Estate Association (MREA) Shelter Foundation makes a point of handing out an award at the Volunteer Manitoba Awards every April, says the MREA’s board chair, Jeff Stern.
“Every year, we go over a list of nominees – I believe there were about 12 this year – who exceeded others and had the most impact on their communities in terms of providing shelter for those in need,” he says. “In the end, we whittled down the list to three finalists.”
As per usual, the MREA’s selection committee found it difficult to come up with the three finalists, as all candidates were outstanding.
Nevertheless, they submitted the list to Volunteer Manitoba, who ultimately chose the MREA Shelter Foundation award recipient.
The 2019 recipient turned out to be Sherrie Winstanley of S.H.A.D.E. Inc. (Safe Housing and Directed Empowerment), a Winnipeg-based organization that works to provide second-stage housing for immigrant and refugee women and their children.
Stern says Winstanley – he presented with the MREA Shelter Foundation Award to her at the Volunteer Manitoba Awards April 11 at Club Regent Event Centre – is a deserving recipient.
“In addition to her day job, Sherrie is the founder and driving force behind S.H.A.D.E.. Since 2012, she’s been instrumental in every part of the development and operation of S.H.A.D.E., from attaining charitable status, completing numerous grant applications, recruiting board members and even writing content for S.H.A.D.E.’s website. Her drive to provide this much-needed assistance is both admirable and inspiring.”
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Winstanley, says Stern, is her ability to put herself in the shoes of newcomers to Canada.
“Her exceptional compassion and empathy are two qualities that make her worthy of this recognition.”
In a nutshell, Winstanley oversees the operation of an organization that ensures immigrant and refugee women and their children are safely housed and healed from domestic and/or family violence.
She also works tirelessly to sustain S.H.A.D.E. so that it will remain a viable shelter option for many years to come.
Manitoba’s REALTORS® share that same spirit, adds Stern.
“As a group, Manitoba’s REALTORS® are vested in the communities they serve, actively volunteering and financially supporting a variety of organizations serving our most vulnerable. Every day throughout our province, Manitoba’s REALTORS® work side-by-side with other volunteers, donating their time, money and energy to help those in need.”
That’s why the MREA will continue to hand out its Shelter Foundation Award at the Volunteer Manitoba Awards every April.
“We want to recognize the deep commitment and compassion that these volunteers have,” says Stern. “It’s really heartwarming, and gives you more confidence in humanity and more faith in the world. It’s an honour to recognize these wonderful volunteers, and a privilege to work with them, and support them.”
To find out more about the MREA Shelter Foundation, visit mreashelterfoundation.com.