The Value of Giving Back

Meet the IBM Volunteer Excellence Award recipient Helen Mitres, Certified Learning Consultant and Sales Facilitator, IBM Canada.

December 19, 2023

Meet the IBM Volunteer Excellence Award recipient Helen Mitres, Certified Learning Consultant and Sales Facilitator, IBM Canada.

The IBM Volunteer Excellence Awards recognize IBM employees and teams who best exemplify the IBM values of dedication, innovation, and trust through their volunteer efforts with local or not-for-profit organizations.

Last year, IBM volunteers made an impact in their local communities in activities ranging from career mentorship and environmental preservation to community resiliency building and the distribution of basic needs. With a passion to improve the lives of others, IBM volunteers were able to broaden the ways technology is used by leveraging their industry expertise to drive social impact and empower diverse communities of learners. The 17 winners demonstrate unsurpassed volunteer service, supporting projects that are a model for similar volunteer engagements across the globe.

IBM volunteer Helen Mitres has been a key contributor to Active Scholars, a non-profit organization with a mission to provide STEM education and sports camps for youth.

She is both a volunteer in the classroom teaching STEM and has sat on the Board of Directors for the past two years. For her volunteer work in the classroom, Helen leveraged IBM SkillsBuild content and resources to get kids excited about careers in technology. In 2022, she delivered STEM learning workshops to 315 youth across different summer camps and female-student groups. In her role on the Board of Directors, Helen offered insights into the organization’s STEM curriculum, branding, marketing, and promotion materials, as well as collaborated on strategic planning to grow and sustain the organization. She worked closely with other board members to ensure the skills being provided to youth led to a growth in their aptitude, interest, and confidence towards STEM related subjects.

We chatted with Helen to learn more about what inspires her to give back.  

  1. What does this award mean to you?

To be recognized with IBM's Volunteer Excellence Award was such an outstanding surprise and honour, particularly being nominated alongside such an incredible group of IBM volunteers globally.

Receiving this award has further strengthened my commitment to organizations like Active Scholars that are doing great work at providing youth the much-needed STEM learning and exposure to careers in technology. The IBM grant money will help us to launch new programming in 2024 and make this program financially accessible to all members of the community, by providing sponsorships for the Active Scholars’ Boys Infinity program coming in 2024 for families in need.

  1. Why did you start volunteering? What inspired you to give back?

My earliest memories of giving back as an IBM Volunteer began when I first joined the company that includes the Terry Fox run (as an organizer and participant), the annual holiday toy drives, and volunteering at Yellow Brick House women's shelter to network and bond with my teammates. My peers and colleagues have been a large source of inspiration throughout my career and introduced me to other ways to get involved and help others.

Being able to leverage my business expertise to impact local organizations and help improve communities is an extremely rewarding experience and has been life changing, both professionally and personally. IBM provides the opportunity and support to encourage employees to give back and embeds this in our corporate culture.

  1. What’s the most rewarding aspect of volunteering?

Creating a sense of community within IBM, as well as a connection to the surrounding community. Volunteering works as a platform for us to make a positive impact our local communities. Through volunteering, we gain personal and professional growth opportunities. More importantly, volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment!It is so very rewarding to see your efforts make a true impact.

  1. Do you have any heroes or people you look up to as volunteers? How have they inspired you?

My close group of friends are very like-minded and are passionate about making a difference in the world. Sharing their experiences and impact with the work they are doing continues to keep me motivated to work in my community. One of the benefits of volunteering is that you begin to surround yourself with others that share the same interests in serving their community - it's a wonderful network of giving people.


Article Categories