Ben Isidro left the Philippines at the age of 20 in search of a better opportunity. After landing in Montreal in 1976, he married his wife Edith and had their first daughter. Two years later, Ben moved to Calgary, where his family continued to grow with two more children.
“Whatever is needed, we just go and do it.”
Despite have three young children and working hard to establish his career, Ben always finds time to actively volunteer in the community. Since 1981, he has served as an officer for various associations. He focused a lot on working with seniors, including driving them to medical appointments, delivering groceries for them, and attending to any other needs they have.
One of Ben’s most memorable experiences happened in 2005. Along with his community members, Ben worked to raise enough funds to renovate St. Mark’s Catholic Church. His enthusiasm caught the attention of community members, one of whom recommended him to Sherrisa, who runs the Immigrant Seniors Services at CCIS. Soon after, Ben was recruited as a volunteer.
“I volunteer with Edith. We always enjoy helping others. Especially now as seniors, we don’t do anything except volunteering!”
Ben and Edith have been active volunteers with CCIS for 15 years and sit on the Seniors Advisory Council to plan services for seniors. Ben also continues to be an active advocate for his community. For two years in a row, he successfully applied for the New Horizons grant, valued at $25,000, to fund services for his community members. For his dedication, CCIS awarded Ben the Most Dedicated Award in 2013, and Outstanding Senior Award in 2019.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March 2020, Ben has been busy supporting the Pilipino Seniors Association. Along with a group of volunteers, Ben has purchased, sorted, and delivered groceries on a regular basis for 360 seniors. At the time of our discussion, Ben was just about to rush off to make a big purchase of groceries, for the fourth time that week!
When asked about what advice he would give to new immigrants about volunteering, Ben always says “Just do it!”. Ben’s genuine intent to serve the community and “just do it” attitude have made him an invaluable part of the CCIS volunteer team.