Desiree with the NorWest team at their match meeting



Each year we present the Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award at the Volunteer Manitoba Awards. Like many other special events, this celebration is typically done in person, but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Volunteer Manitoba has once again decided to host the awards celebration online via their Facebook page


Regardless if we come together in-person or over our computers, we at Spark always look forward to this day because it gives us a chance to recognize our volunteers and the impact their work has had on the community, as well as celebrate volunteerism throughout Manitoba.


From now until awards night, we are celebrating these nominees for the Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award, and their contributions to their community through a series of volunteer profiles.


Today we are profiling Desiree Harder


Desiree reached out to Spark to volunteer her marketing and fundraising expertise in 2017 after moving back to Winnipeg. She noted in her initial outreach email that she had fallen in love with Winnipeg again and felt it time for her to use her expertise to make the city stronger. 


It was Desiree’s background in marketing that made her the perfect fit for Corey and NorWest– Youth Employment Supports for Success, a new program that supports youth in gaining employment skills necessary to success in the modern workplace.  According to nominator Corey, “ We have plenty of connections with other non profits in the city but connecting to the private sector and looking to engage them with the intention of having them partner with our program was something new to us.”


To achieve their goals, Desiree met with the program coordinators to develop a strategy “for approaching businesses, including the key points to express for consistency between staff and to create a promotional flyer which would succinctly explain our ask and the benefits of hosting a participant.”


After the four month match Corey reported that Desiree’s expertise has helped the program secure multiple partnerships with employers. “We’ve now had two cohorts of youth start placements and have quality connections with over a dozen organizations who have or are willing to take on a youth […] we’ll be using her work to continue to recruit employers for the duration of our project” says Corey. 


Finally, Corey noted that although “her support was entirely indirect with regards the youth who participate in our program, the impact of her work where it helped to cement a placement could be the difference between a youth having the experience and a reference to gain or continue work for years to come or being unemployed and struggling to find work and make the most of the opportunity our program afforded them.”


Congratulations on your nomination, Desiree! Thank you for volunteering your expertise to an organization that enables youth to find meaningful employment.


Interested in reading more about this year’s nominees? Check out our profile on Stephanie Johnston!