Syrelle Bernstein has been the Director of Volunteer Services Department of Baycrest for over 20 years. Her goal at Baycrest is to achieve excellence, innovation and leadership in volunteerism, to provide volunteers with a learning experience as they assist and compliment staff in providing the highest quality of care to our clients. In her role as director, Syrelle is responsible for the over 2000 volunteers who give their time to Baycrest.
Syrelle partnered with Rotman Research to implement a research study BRAVO (Baycrest Research about Volunteering among Older Adults). The hypothesis of this study was that volunteering increases physical, cognitive and social activities –to varying degrees depending on the volunteer role. The real success of the project was that in addition to staff it was run by a team of researchers and 35 skilled retired volunteers.
Baycrest volunteer department prides itself in being forward thinking when creating volunteer roles that will support the mission of Baycrest. Syrelle presented workshops on volunteerism at the International Conference on Voluntary Efforts in Panama City, Panama in 2001 and in Singapore in 2010.
Prior to this position, Syrelle was Recruitment and Referral Manager for the Volunteer Centre of Metropolitan Toronto where she managed their six branches and satellite branch at York University for nine years. In this position Syrelle conducted training programs on a variety of areas for Administrators of Volunteers.
Syrelle was the 2006 recipient of the PAVR-O Linda Buchanan Administrator of the Year Award for Professional Administrators of Volunteer Resources recognizing her professional commitment to leadership of Volunteer Resources. This year Syrelle received the Baycrest 2008 Hy and Bertha Shore and Sara and Harry Gorman Award.
Syrelle has planned and presented numerous workshops nationally and internationally on volunteerism to the public, voluntary and private sectors for over 25 years. In 2008 she presented at the International Conference on Voluntary Efforts in Panama City, Panama.
Her workshops covered such topics as staff volunteer relations, moving the profession, screening of volunteers, interpreters in healthcare, customer service, value added through effective record keeping, marketing, youth community involvement, collaboration/partnerships and creating a change model through volunteerism. In addition Syrelle trained staff, volunteers and community in life skills.
Syrelle is an active board member of the AJSHA Board of Directors and continues to be an active professional throughout the voluntary sector. Memberships include PAVR-O Professional and Public Affairs committee, International Year of Volunteerism IAVE Conference 2001 Program Committee, Humber College Voluntary Sector Advisory Committee, OAVA Executive, AVA Awards Co-chair, Ontario Board of Education Community Service Learning working committee, Health Care Interpretation Information and Education Network, United Generation Ontario CSL Committee.
In addition she has worked in partnership with corporations to run youth volunteer programs and developed and implemented a large volunteer event called ‘Serve Your City Day’ for four years in Toronto.
Syrelle is a Life Skills Coach and holds a Degree in Early Childhood Education and Volunteer Management from York University.
Syrelle quotes “In my over 25 years in the field of volunteer management, I continue to be energized by the value added volunteers bring to an organization and to the people they serve. I believe that volunteering adds years to your life and life to your years.”