Featured Volunteer: Nathalie Vallières
Get to know our volunteer, Nathalie Vallières! She just joined us on her first ISLA trip to the Dominican Republic!
What is your favorite beach in the world?
I have travelled to so many beaches on this beautiful planet of ours that each ocean and lake front has always given me so much more than I have given back….. Being from the Great White North, when you have a chance to soak in the rays beachside, you know you are having a great day! If I had to choose though, I would say that the Caribbean probably has the most beautiful, natural, beach fronts in the world…with its warm water, soft sand and hot breeze, how can you not fall in love.
Why are you a lifeguard?
25 years and counting! I love the work and although I am no longer lake or pool side, the training and research I conduct with the teams of people I work with has given me so much insight about myself and motivation to continue the mission of drowning prevention. I love learning from others, and working in different teams. Lifeguarding opened my eyes to a world I had no idea existed. I have travelled the world and have been lucky to work with such a diverse group of people and organisations, that I can’t see myself slowing down. I look forward to the next 25 years!
How did you first get started with ISLA?
I had travelled to Venezuela 2 years ago and was presented at their Drowning Prevention Congress and from there, I wanted to do more. I searched and quickly came across this ISLA website and sent an email requesting more information….from that day, a beautiful partnership emerged! I am so looking forward to working with this group of dynamic, energetic, and free spirited people!
I joined the Dominican Republic (DR) project this past April and needless to say, I am now working on a cool program for girls…stay tuned!
What interested you most about ISLA?
Their Mission! How they do what they do with little resources but much heart. They keep it real! They keep is simple! They remember the mission!
Favorite thing about the ISLA project you were on?
Working with American lifeguards and getting to understand their training models. I love that so many lifeguards came from across the States, and despite having different training and experience, we were all able to work together as a team in a very short period of time. My most favourite however, was working with the Mariposa girls. As a Lifesaving National trainer in Canada, I like to target special interest groups, and being in the DR, everyone fits that need. These Mariposa girls were feisty, intelligent, fit and eager to learn. I hope to do it again.
Of course, it cannot be forgotten that our leader (Will Koon) brought us on one of the most extraordinary excursions! Canyoning, repelling 60 ft, dodging bats, and jumping off cliffs into ice cold water was a highlight! Like I mentioned, age has nothing to do with what you know, how you earn it and why you decide to do the things you do! I loved every moment!
What inspires you?
Seeing that what we do makes a difference. Working with others who are motivated and share the same ideals, always inspiring!
What do you do outside of volunteering for ISLA?
Call me mom; (son 16 and daughter 20) never too old to call me mommy. Call me wife; my husband support all my projects that inspire and motivate me. Call me lifetime volunteer for the Canadian Lifesaving Society. I sit on the Lifesaving Society’s Council and work on various research projects. Call me Lifesaving trainer and Lifesaving Sport judge and official. I teach lifeguard and instructor courses and officiate at various national and international with lifesaving sport competitions. Call me MBA candidate…still trying to fit that one in. Oh, can’t forget my job…I work at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Engineering. I love my job in marketing, communications and recruitment. And I really do LOVE to travel, and enjoy running, yoga, music, reading and time with my best friends….
Favourite Beach and Music Combo
I would have to say anything by MIKA, and Tofino….perfect start to a day in the surf…
What’s next with ISLA?