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Spotlight on Volunteering

Volunteer profiles

VolunteerThe contributions of volunteers are essential to the success of the Arthritis Society. And the ways that volunteers can help serve people affected by arthritis are as diverse as their own stories. Explore a few of our volunteers’ stories here.

  • Cheryl “CJ” Johnson - British Columbia

    Photography of Cheryl JohnsonMy mission is to show others that it’s possible to live well with purpose and have fun even in the face of adversity. My passion is being an ambassador, advocate and educator: a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves, helping others and enabling them to achieve their fullest potential.

    In 2009, my life changed drastically when I received a triple diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, which brought my body to a screeching halt. When I was at my most vulnerable, the team at the Mary Pack Arthritis Centre and the Arthritis Society’s staff showed me compassion and care. They recognized that I still had value and skills and engaged me in joining forces to combat these debilitating conditions.

    Over the last 10 years I have been involved as a volunteer ambassador and advocate, but the contribution that has likely made the biggest difference is in my role providing arthritis information. I educate new healthcare professionals on how to treat patients living with arthritis, attend health fairs for the Arthritis Society, lead workshops, and other opportunities to help people better understand the impacts that arthritis can have.

    The ultimate gratification for me is that moment when someone approaches me to share their story of a positive breakthrough. Knowing that I’ve helped one more person feel less alone, and instead feel supported and resourced is the best reward. I feel privileged to represent and partner with the Arthritis Society.

  • Anastasia Roemer - Alberta

    Photography of Anastasia Roemer“I volunteer with the Arthritis Society because I want to help people like me. I’ve had arthritis all my life. I was diagnosed at the age of one and a half with juvenile idiopathic arthritis in both of my knees. When I was 13 years old, I had a flare-up with inflammation in all my major joints: ankles, knees, hips, elbows and wrists.

    “After my first few events with the Arthritis Society, I realized that my life had been lacking in having a connection with the arthritis community. Volunteering provides that connection for me. 

    “I’ve had the privilege to volunteer as a mentor at the Alberta camp for children with arthritis. Camp allows kids the opportunity to learn how to feel more confident and open as people with arthritis in a safe environment. Spending a whole week with them inspired me to try harder to exemplify those qualities in my own life.

    “As a 20-year-old university student, I believe engaging young people in organizations such as the Arthritis Society lays the foundation for a strong future. As students, whether in junior high, high school, or post-secondary, we are constantly challenged to innovate. I’d love to see more of those amazing minds engaged in this cause.”

  • Dr. Hamid Izadpanah - Ontario

    Photography of Dr. Hamid Izadpanah“Since I arrived in Canada with my wife from Tehran in November 2018, I’ve looked for ways to give back to the country that welcomed us so warmly. Inflammatory arthritis is a personal as well as professional interest: my niece was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, but thanks to early diagnosis and effective treatment, she is now in remission.

    “As a pharmacist, I spent many years working with pharmaceutical companies in Iran on rheumatology medications such as Humira, Enbrel and Xeljanz. It has been a pleasure being able to review educational content such as the medication reference guide for the Arthritis Society to make sure the information is up-to-date for other users.

    “Marie, Helen and the team at the Arthritis Society have been wonderful to work with, helping me support the work of this organization in a way that best suits my talents and available time. I feel good knowing that I am building my Canadian work history and developing professional connections within the health-care community here in support of an important cause.” 

  • Nona Charbonneau – Quebec

    Photography of Nona Charbonneau“I volunteer out of selfishness because it makes me so happy! I also do it in memory of my mother, who became disabled due to rheumatoid arthritis.

    “I have volunteered in the Montreal office of the Arthritis Society since 1999. In that time, I’ve seen many changes of director, lots of employees come and go and even a few office moves for the Montreal team. But the spirit remains the same. Volunteering allows me to socialize and to get out of the house for a while.

    “I help with a few administrative tasks for a few hours every Friday. At the age of 92, I’m still always curious, I feel in with the times. I like to take care of everyone around me and bring joy.” 


  • Elizabeth Newman - Nova Scotia

    Photography of Elizabeth NewmanMy niece was diagnosed with arthritis as a toddler. I have watched her manoeuvre through her life and arthritis journey with medication, pain and daily limiting struggles. She has faced this challenge her entire life, but it has never stopped her from succeeding, moving forward and having an active family. It’s because of her, and other family members who live with arthritis, that I’m proud to volunteer with the Arthritis Society.

    I became involved with the Arthritis Society in 2013, because it’s an organization that can truly affect the lives of people living with this disease. The main way I give back is as a committee member for a signature fundraising event called the Celebrity Roast. It’s a highly recognized annual event in Halifax, Nova Scotia with a 28-year history. It’s one of the few local events that continues to resonate in the community, which is phenomenal.

    Each year, we roast a different well-known business and/or community leader. We have a small but mighty core committee, which is supplemented every year by new members who know the person being recognized. Given my background in the hospitality industry, I’m always thinking of new concepts for the event to generate revenue and continue to make the event one that people want to attend year after year. The roast really raises the profile of people with arthritis and awareness for the disease itself and raises critical funds to help local programming.

    Through my volunteer experience, it’s clear that the Arthritis Society provides help and hope for a better future for so many people suffering from this disease. I’m glad I can play a small part in this by giving my time.

Inspired? Fill out our online volunteer application to get started.