Alex Duica is a recipient of our 2023 Community Wellbeing grant program. Because of her volunteer work with the Helping Families Handle Cancer Foundation (HFHC), she won a $1,000 grant for herself and a matching grant for HFHC.

For Alex Duica, volunteering is more than a hobby or pastime—it’s a part of who she is. “I volunteer because my life has greater meaning when I am putting my efforts towards something bigger than myself,” says Alex. “Volunteering is a way for me to live by my values and effect positive change in my community.”

Alex was young when she realized how much of a difference she could make. At 14 years old, she participated in the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative competition at her junior high school. That’s when she learned about Helping Families Handle Cancer (HFHC), a non-profit group who supports families with the cost of caring for a child with cancer.

When she heard about their mission and the people they help, Alex felt so inspired that she knew her team had to win the competition—and they did. Because of their efforts, HFHC received $5,000 to help their cancer families.

While Alex felt it was remarkable that a group of 14-year-old girls could do something so meaningful, she knew that wouldn’t be the end of her volunteer work—she was hooked. Alex went on to do more work with HFHC, even as she graduated and went on to university. She’s now been an HFHC volunteer for 8 years, and in that time, she’s led many programs to support families whose child who will not survive their cancer diagnosis, as well as families who have already lost a child to pediatric cancer. It’s hard work, but Alex is up to the challenge.

“There is no better feeling than knowing that you helped someone navigate a difficult time in their life,” says Alex. “My volunteer work fills my heart with warmth and a sense of purpose… My experience has shown me that even the smallest gestures make a big difference.”

Over the years, Alex has credited her volunteer work with helping her grow, build character and learn new things about herself. Says Alex, “Volunteering has helped me understand the extent of my power and privilege. It has made me more compassionate, hard working and informed me about the social and environmental forces impacting my community. It has given me the opportunity to do something good for others while simultaneously becoming a better teammate, leader and friend.”

These days, Alex is focused on finishing law school, but her days with HFHC are far from over. She sees volunteers as the heartbeat of society, and she knows we couldn’t get by without them. Volunteers help make up our social fabric, and Alex wants to be part of that for as long as possible.

“I truly believe that the skills I developed while volunteering have served me well in law school and will continue to serve me well as a lawyer,” she says. “I have learned how to manage and inspire a team, meet tight deadlines, navigate complex interpersonal problems, provide good quality services to community members and stay calm in stressful situations. Volunteering has shown me that I can be thrown into the fire and come out stronger at the other end.”

Alex’s advice for anyone who wants to start volunteering is simple: just try it. “The great thing about volunteer work is that you can tailor it to fit your passions and career aspirations—there is something out there for everyone!”

The Community Wellbeing grant program will re-open on September 3, 2024. Stay updated on all the latest announcements.

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