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Volunteers are the Foundation's most important asset

There is no way of stopping Mildred.

As a long-time Heart and Stroke Foundation volunteer Ms. Pinet and her group Chapitre Gérard Levesque are an indispensable part of any fundraising event taking place in the Caraquet region.

"Volunteers like Mildred Pinet are remarkable and truly inspirational," says Dan Connolly, the Executive Director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of New Brunswick. He encourages New Brunswickers to volunteer this February during the Foundation's Annual Campaign.

Those interested can call toll-free at 1-800-663-3600.

"It is really not that difficult. We are asking for volunteers who can spend a couple of hours one or two evenings in February knocking on the doors of their neighbours," says Mr. Connolly. "You are going to be in really good company."

Every year, it takes over 3,000 hours of calling to secure over 4,000 volunteers who run the Heart and Stroke Foundation's annual campaign in February.

Ms. Pinet says she has an excellent team of volunteers behind her who are very commited to helping the cause and the community.

"People sympathize with the Heart and Stroke cause because so many people are affected by it," she says. Almost 40 percent of Canadians will develop some form of heart disease or stroke over their lifetime.

As the president of the Chapitre Gérard Levesque, named after the first person in New Brunswick to undergo an open heart surgery, Ms. Pinet coordinates the February Campaign as well as a very successful bowling tournament.

"People are very generous here. It is really impressive to see how a small community like ours responds," says Ms. Pinet. The bowling tournament her group organizes draws anywhere between 250 and 300 participants.

"We have been fortunate to preserve a very strong volunteer base. Our volunteers are incredibly dedicated and important to us. Our work is possible in large part because of their generosity," says Mr. Dan Connolly. The Foundation is currently recruiting volunteers for its annual Person-to-Person Campaign.

According to a recent study, Atlantic Canadians volunteer more often and contribute more hours than the national average. However, with an aging population, it's becoming more of a challenge for charities to find volunteers. The problem lies in the fact that on average five percent of the volunteers donate 34 percent of volunteer hours. As the population ages a great number of long-time, dedicated volunteers are finding it difficult to help the causes they believe in. Ms. Pinet is a prime example of a dedicated community volunteer. She volunteers with over 15 events and causes including organizing fundraisers for her church and various art and community festivals in the region.

"I am very busy. Busier in fact than ever before," she says. As a long time educator, she is good at managing time, but she warns that for many volunteers burnout is a real issue. "It's always the same people who volunteer and they are getting tired."

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is a leading funder of heart and stroke research in Canada, with hundreds of hospital and university-based research teams depending on the Foundation year after year. The Foundation relies heavily on public donations to ensure vital heart and stroke research continues. To volunteer with the Foundation please call toll-free at 1-800-633-3600 or email heart.stroke@hsf.nb.ca