Marva has worked to build inclusive & just communities


I sat at my desk and pondered over obstacles in my volunteer leadership role. I was exhausted, feeling utterly alone. And in my solitude, the timid little immigrant girl from Jamaica was front and centre. In Rev. Martin Luther King Jr’s. famous proclamation, ‘what is required of greatness is service to others,’ I questioned – whom does ‘others’ reference and where does values alignment fit? I had neglected growing my own business, Wisdom Consulting, due to volunteer commitments: my mentors’ counsel on self care had fallen on deaf ears. I had to act – to find inspiration.

I decided to open the email sent to me a month earlier by a friend who had nominated me for an award. She had said ‘you need to know what others see in you.’ I steeled myself, read the letters attached to the email, and wept. They had captured 27 years of volunteer engagement. From 1988, when seven other parents and I successfully advocated for the rebuilding of Paisley Road School, to my current chairship of the YMCA-YWCA of Guelph.

I have not a moment of regret for having had the opportunity to provide volunteer leadership at local, national, and international levels. In every context, successive leaders have unselfishly mentored my growth. I have gained perspective on obstacles and on the seamlessness of my volunteer and business endeavors.

As Karl Subban said in speaking about his three sons, ‘obstacles are just a distraction.’ Thank you to my friends, mentors, colleagues, and volunteers who walk a similar path in service – building capacity for inclusive and just communities where we all find belonging.

– Marva Wisdom, Wisdom Consulting

Photo and story courtesy of Chris Tiessen

Posted on January 13, 2016