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CHW Vancouver President

Stephanie Rusen

In Conversation CHW Vancouver President, Stephanie Rusen, is a Québec native who has lived all over our beautiful nation: from Québec, to New Brunswick, to Ontario, Alberta, and now British Columbia. Along with her husband Danny, she has two children, Joe and Jenya. Having been involved with CHW for almost 30 years, Stephanie has been on the Vancouver Council, and acted as Centre Treasurer. Stephanie is also a CHW Life Member.

How did you first get involved with CHW? My first introduction to CHW was about 29 years ago when I used to volunteer at the Bazaar in Calgary. When I moved to Vancouver 28 years ago I continued to volunteer some of my time at the Bazaar there as well. I started just working for the day, which led to helping with setup, and it gradually just grew into more and more responsibility once I became a member. I am also very good friends with Claudia Goldman, so about nine

years ago she came over before a CHW meeting she was on her way to, and once she realized I had nothing to do that evening she promptly dragged me to the meeting. Sitting with the women that night I found myself at home. I had such an excellent time that I became a Life Member that same evening.

What do you find most challenging about being a Centre President? The most challenging part has to be understanding the scope of the job, and all the depths and details that go into it. It’s something you don’t realize until you are in the role. Even though I was on Council for four years, you’re still not aware of how much the President does. I like to use the analogy of a duck. Above water it appears full of grace, poise, and beauty, but below the surface the feet are peddling like mad.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about getting involved with their local Centre? I get very excited when I talk about CHW. We’re an organization of volunteers and just a handful of paid staff, and we raise a lot of money. There are so many organizations out there with paid staff to raise money, and that’s their job. This isn’t our job.

We do it out of passion, excitement, and a desire to help. With CHW you’re not just giving to a charity, you’re changing lives. A lot of the children we help come from nothing, we are giving them a life. Shifting their perspective from despair to hope. When you speak about a cause with so much passion and enthusiasm it makes people want to get involved.

What exciting initiatives are underway at the Vancouver Centre? An exciting initiative that we started this past year is called ‘Meducation’ This is an event run city-wide, as opposed to chapter-wide. During our ‘Meducation’ lectures we get experts to come in and discuss various health topics relevant to our members. At our last meeting we had Dr. Gidon Perlman from Hadassah Hospital, who is currently in Vancouver on a two year fellowship with one of the leading pioneers in heart valve replacement surgery. So, to have Dr. Perlman come in and speak at our event was definitely interesting for everyone. What’s also very exciting is that he has agreed to participate in more ‘Meducation’ lectures in the future.

What would someone be surprised to know about CHW Vancouver? I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that Vancouver has provided CHW with four National Presidents: Naomi Frankenberg, Judy Mandleman, Rochelle Levinson, and now Claudia Goldman.

ORAH Magazine Summer 2015 [ 26 ]

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