Wellspring has a long-standing tradition of having wonderful volunteers who support our mission, programs and members in so many ways. The Money Matters Program would like to pay tribute to one of our outstanding volunteers – Alan Shanoff.
Back in 2009, the Money Matters program was in its infancy, but we had the idea of creating a legal clinic, the first of its kind in Canada. We needed lawyers to directly help our members, and we needed a roster of mentor lawyers to be resource experts to those on the front-line. Although the idea for this legal clinic was groundbreaking, we were struggling to find the experts to help us. And then Alan Shanoff walked through the door – literally.
Alan has had a prolific legal career – working as legal counsel at Sun Media, managing a department and full team of lawyers at a Bay Street law firm, teaching courses at college, writing for Sun Media and legal journals. But at that time in 2009 he was seeking a new volunteer opportunity, a way to help those coping with cancer by sharing his wealth of knowledge and expertise.
My colleague Ilene Shiller and I sat down with Alan to talk. We instantly felt a connection – he was warm, sympathetic to the struggles of our members with legal worries, very knowledgeable, and eager to participate. We told him our struggles – we needed mentors, and we needed more lawyers. We were having trouble getting those connections and opening those doors. Little did we know about his drive and commitment, and at that moment Alan decided to embrace Wellspring and jump into action.
Very shortly thereafter, we had a full roster of mentors, thanks to Alan who personally contacted lawyers and asked for their help. And he told his peers about this great volunteer opportunity, encouraging them to join the team of front-line volunteers. Without his early help, the legal clinic, still the only one of its kind in Canada, would have taken months, maybe years, to get off the ground.
Since then, Alan has helped the Money Matters program in significant ways. He’s a program leader, leading our legal sessions for both our Returning to Work and Back at Work programs. Since 2009 he continues to meet directly with members at our Downtown Toronto centre who have legal questions related to Long Term Disability or their employment. Likely he has helped hundreds of our members with information and advice during their time of need. Behind the scenes, he’s proof-read content for our resources and provided legal update advice to both Ilene and me. Both of us would say he is one of our key professional contacts. It’s not odd for us to call on Alan every couple of weeks to ask for help in some way or another. To say that Alan is a gem would be an understatement – he’s been a mentor, advisor, supporter of Money Matters and Wellspring and a true ally to many.
And now, Alan is retiring. After more than 40 years in the legal profession, Alan will be putting up his feet and enjoying his well-deserved retirement. Knowing Alan, he’ll be far from resting – his retirement will be filled with travel, time with family and friends, staying active in his sports hobbies of running, cycling and playing tennis.
On behalf of the many members he has helped, and the staff of the Money Matters program, Wellspring thanks Alan for his 7+ years of volunteering. His efforts have made a significant contribution to the legal clinic and the lives of people facing cancer. We wish him many happy and healthy years of retirement. All that’s left to say – thank you Alan.
Pamela Bowes, M.Ed. |Manager, Money Matters and Workplace Programs
Ilene Shiller, MSW, RSW |Case Manager – Wellspring Money Matters Program