<  / Stories

From volunteer to career: Celebrating International Volunteer Day


Man hiking with a dog in a heavily treed area
Vash hiking with his dog Charlie.

For International Volunteer Day, we celebrate all the ways volunteering makes a difference in the lives of both clients and volunteers. Many Northern Health staff began their careers as volunteers, including NH’s Executive Director of Workforce Sustainability, Vash Ebbadi.

It was a long journey for Vash (he/they) when he moved from Toronto to start a special practicum placement at NH in Prince George for his master's in public health – and he’s stayed with us ever since!

His current role supports workforce sustainability, which he affectionately describes as a fascinating mix of “Everything, everywhere, all at once!”

Vash had always known he wanted a career in health care, and his first step was becoming a volunteer at Toronto General Hospital. He began as a screener/greeter with the multi-organ transplant unit, guiding patients to their rooms and helping with small tasks.

“When people come to the hospital, it’s likely their worst day,” says Vash. “It was fulfilling to know I could make it a little easier, and I’ve carried that feeling with me throughout my whole career.”

“I’ll always remember a young woman just a few years younger than me who had waited a long time for a liver match,” he says, about how volunteering was an unforgettable experience. “The day she finally got her match, she was so excited, and everyone was elated. How bright of a day that was, and what an honour to be part of it.”

Vash then began volunteering with the research team. By shipping goods, entering data, and doing various tasks, he and other volunteers were able to free up staff for the important research they were conducting.

“It was new for the department to have volunteers involved and it was meaningful to be part of building that,” he says. “I helped onboard other volunteers, and I loved mentoring them – they were so keen to be a bigger, more tangible part of health care.”

As a volunteer, Vash played an important role in supporting patients, and this has influenced his own choices as well. “Being able to be part of the patient’s journey was really special,” he says. “Connecting with those providing care was an important part of my career choices.”

On International Volunteer Day, Northern Health thanks volunteers everywhere who make our communities better and healthier places!