A Young Professional Making a Difference in Our Community
By day, 28-year-old Helena Sonea is the Manager, Public Issues at the Canadian Cancer Society where she works on influencing public policy in support of cancer patients and their caregivers. It’s a very busy job, but one to which she brings her passion for helping others.
Outside of her “day job,” Sonea has also given the gift of her time to a number of local charitable organizations. All of her volunteer work has been focused on, as she says, “creating a more inclusive society for people who are vulnerable.” She is inspired to do so by her parents who worked tirelessly to give the best opportunities to succeed in life to her two brothers who are on the autism spectrum.
Two years ago, Sonea answered the call to become the founding Chair of The Ottawa Mission Foundation’s Young Professionals Network (YPN). The YPN is a collective of like-minded professionals whose goal is to raise awareness about homelessness and poverty in Ottawa. Sonea did her homework before joining the YPN, and was impressed at how many different programs are offered at The Mission—including job training, addiction, trauma treatment, and medical and palliative care—and the calibre of the work being done to change lives. She also learned that the need for supporting people who are homeless and hurting in Ottawa has never been greater—and she is determined to be part of the solution.
Sonea’s vision for the YPN going forward is to increase their involvement in a variety of volunteer opportunities at the shelter, such as continuing to participate in established Mission fundraisers including Coldest Night of the Year, the Blue Door Gala, and the YPN annual event. The Ottawa Mission is very fortunate to have Sonea leading the YPN charge, and is actively recruiting other young professionals like her to get involved on the executive team and as general members.
Throughout her life, Sonea has been guided by the mentorship of many women she has met along her journey, and her advice to other young women who want to succeed in life and make a difference along the way is, “don’t be afraid to ask questions—lots of questions, and in your career and your life, don’t be afraid to do what is best for you and makes you happy.”