Al's story: seeing the change volunteers can make

Volunteers are at the core of the Canadian Cancer Society’s work. Through forming deep human connections, they can make positive impacts in the lives of people from diverse backgrounds and observe the change they are making in the world, through the progress of new research initiatives. Volunteering is empathy in action and Winnipeg resident Al Shell embodies that mission and hopes he can inspire others to support the cancer cause.

Al Shell

From donating to sitting on the Canadian Cancer Society's Manitoba Provincial Board

Supporting Canadians impacted by cancer has been an important part of Al’s life for decades, as seeing so many families in need first drove him to want to help his loved ones and other community members.

“Since my first donation to the Canadian Cancer Society in my 20s, I have come to know so many relatives and friends who have gone through cancer treatment or have passed away. I still feel that cancer is the number one health cause that we should focus on in Canada. So when I saw an ad about the Canadian Cancer Society looking for board members 8 years ago, I knew I wanted to get involved.”

In 2014, Al began serving on the Canadian Cancer Society’s Manitoba Provincial Board, initially assisting with recruiting new volunteers at speaking engagements and new board members, to expand the Canadian Cancer Society’s notoriety in his community. But Al says the most rewarding part has been seeing the impact the services can make.

Al Shell talking on a cell phone, while writing on a piece of paper.

“When I started, I wanted to get involved in as many areas as I could. Now, I’ve been able to see many successes and good people doing good work. It has been incredible to know first-hand that the breakthroughs are happening, there is progress in all areas of engagement and I’ve helped people living with cancer see the roads that they can take, which is the most important thing.”

All of the connections Al has made and the roles he’s had in expanding the outreach of the Manitoba Provincial Board have not stopped him from taking his passion for the cancer cause even further. He also served on the Canadian Cancer Society’s National Council, in order to find new ways that research and support services can continue.

“I’m proud to have served as chair on the Fundraising Council (Western Canada) because it gives me opportunities to glean ideas from other provinces for ways to reach people who are passionate about the cause. There are times when I wish I could have raised more, but any donation matters because it is something you can be proud of and know you did something worthwhile.”

As we progress in finding new research opportunities, we thank volunteers like Al for his support and using his experiences to empower others to help change the future of cancer.