Committed to community
Louise Boudreau knows the value of community.
As a dedicated volunteer she also knows the important role her contributions make to positive growth in her community. She has given her time to boards of organizations such as the Military Family Resource Centre, Big Sisters of Canada, Greater Victoria Victim Services and Nova Scotia Special Olympics. Her countless hours of community service were recently recognized with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award.
“You don’t just become part of a community. You become responsible. There is an onus and a burden in becoming part of a community,” the Royal Roads MBA student says of her motivations. “You have to step up to the plate. Our community is built on those kinds of people. What is the future of our community if people stop doing that? It leads to a lot of questions.”
Volunteering has always played an important role in Boudreau’s life, from watching her own parents donate their time to finding ways to contribute her skills as an adult. The experiences she has gained have helped her grow personally and professionally, a desire for self-improvement that ultimately led her to Royal Roads University. She started the MBA program in the summer of 2012 and notes she can already see the impact of the course on her work with National Research Council Canada. “I needed to have a more solid foundation and validation for the ideas that I have and how I have been applying them in the workplace,” Boudreau says.
That foundation is further supported by the network and skills base she has built through volunteering, she says. The work brings together people who might not have otherwise crossed paths.
“When we get a job we have a certain sphere of influence. When you are doing volunteer work … you get a completely different perspective on things,” she says. “You really get an appreciation for alternative perspectives.”
Her board experiences have helped Boudreau refine her own leadership style and introduced her to mentors in that regard. Her goal is to make sure everyone she works with is getting what they need out of the experience from a skills development perspective, she says.
It’s an inclusive approach that others are quick to acknowledge. Nel Keath-Humphrey, an Ontario-based counsellor and psychotherapist, first met Boudreau in 2008. At the time, Boudreau was volunteering as the board chair of the Military Family Resource Centre in Ottawa. The organization was going through a challenging year and Boudreau really helped them all through it, Keath-Humphrey says.
“She was trying to always bring everyone together and be collaborative, to have their say regardless of positioning. The military is a hierarchy and even the spouses feel that,” she says. “She leveled that.”
Keath-Humphrey describes her friend as thoughtful, articulate and very hard working in both her professional and personal life – traits that are clearly reflected in her long list of volunteer commitments. Boudreau has given her time in Ottawa and Victoria as her family moves between the cities based on her husband’s military career. That flux in address is another reason she values volunteering so much, she says, noting she has moved five times in the last eight years.
“Unless you integrate into the community and invest in the community you are never going to feel a sense of roots. I hope for my own children they will see how important that is.”
Reflecting on what the award means to her, Boudreau returns to her own mother.
“This is really a medal my own mother should have gotten,” she says. “She raised seven kids on a shoestring budget and still found time to (volunteer). I will never be as good at it as she is. I would very much like to say to her that this is something that I share with her.”