Volunteer of the Year Amanda LeBlanc Helps Keep Essential Services Running in Hudson Bay

Amanda conducts an EMS inspection of a contractor. 'Whenever I need to run out and do something for one of my causes during a workday, my co-workers support me in that. In December, we left for three or four hours to wrap gifts for a local theater fundraiser. That kind of flexibility is a huge help.'

Whenever there’s a need to fill a volunteer position in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, locals know Amanda LeBlanc will be there. The Timberlands administrator has such a long list of causes and organizations she’s volunteered for, she can hardly remember them all.

Among them are local kids’ gymnastics, ice rink concessions (which fund Minor Hockey and CanSkate), the curling club, the Hudson Bay Health Care Auxiliary, and the Red Deer Saddle Club’s annual Western Roundup event. She’s also president of the Hudson Bay Early Learning Centre and treasurer for a charity called Hudson Bay & District Donors Choice.

“If we want these activities and services to exist in our community, we have to show up and be generous with our time and energy,” she says. “It’s just as simple as that.”

For her broad dedication to education, youth development, human services, civic, culture and public safety, Amanda has been named one of five winners of the 2023 Volunteer of the Year Award.

Image of a tray of succulents Amanda sells from her yard, which she then donates the funds to charities she supports.

Amanda finds creative ways to raise funds, such as selling succulents from her yard and donating the money raised. 'Since 2015, when I first started with Donors Choice, we’ve raised over $100,000, which is a lot for a small town,' she says. 'We go door to door asking for donations for 20 different local charities. My job is to deposit all those checks and count the money. It feels amazing to see the grand total at the end of a campaign and then present that money to each cause.'


Tell us a bit about your day job.

I’m the Timberlands administrator for Hudson Bay Timberlands. I manage everything that has to do with contracts, including log truck paperwork and permitting, and contractor pay. I’m also Hudson Bay’s Giving Fund chair.

What did you think when you found out about the award?

I was on the phone with a stakeholder, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a pop-up notification that read, “Congratulations, Amanda!” I got kind of tongue-tied and fumbled my way through the rest of the call. I definitely was not expecting it, but I’m honored.

Image of Amanda picking up a 12-passenger van purchased for the Hudson Bay Early Learning Centre.

Amanda picks up the 12-passenger van purchased for the Hudson Bay Early Learning Centre. 'Finding enough volunteers in a small community is always a challenge, yet those people are needed to keep the wheels on the bus. If you live in a big city and you want to enroll your child in gymnastics, you’ll probably go to a business. But in Hudson Bay, it’ll be a volunteer-run organization. Many hands make light work, as they say.'

What motivates you to volunteer?

Hudson Bay is very small, and we don’t have a lot of funds to throw around. If we want our town to flourish and be the best possible place to raise a family, we need to volunteer. If people don’t step up, programs disappear, and I just don’t believe that’s an option.

What makes you choose the causes and programs you support?

Sometimes, I volunteer based on what my kids are doing, like sports activities. Other times, I step up when I hear that help is needed for a local event, such as the Western Roundup. My parents role modeled volunteerism my whole life. My dad organized golf fundraisers and was a member of the Rotary Club. My mom’s sorority does never-ending community work. In retirement, they were both volunteers at the Regina Hospital gift shop, which helped fund the hospital. I’m so proud to walk in their footsteps.

One of the causes I support that’s closest to my heart is the Hudson Bay Early Learning Centre. Every parent wants our kids to be well cared for, but there are few options in our community for daycare. The Early Learning Centre is a childcare cooperative that offers before- and after-school care programs as well as daycare programs — and they’re all used by many Weyerhaeuser employees. I joined the board when my daughter was born five years ago.

Image of Amanda and her family visiting the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton.

Amanda and her family (husband Michael and kids Skylar, Mikaela, Jessie, Charlotte and Logan) visit the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton.

Is there a particular achievement that you’re most proud of?

Our Early Learning Centre’s Board has done an excellent job creating a capital investment plan and laying out the framework to make it successful for the long term. We care for 70 children from 52 families. It feels amazing to play a role in so many lives.

What’s your favorite part of the work?

I’m able to use some of my strongest skills, like working with financial data, to give back to important causes.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to give back but doesn’t know how or where?

Jump in, try some things and see what strikes a chord in your heart. Do you love animals? Does it break your heart to think about children not having food? Do you have friends or family members who volunteer already and can just bring you along? You might find that once you experience that feeling of making a difference, you get totally hooked.

Image of Amanda helping to celebrate truck driver Joe Hartl's 75th birthday.

Amanda helps celebrate truck driver Joe Hartl’s 75th birthday. In 2023, three of Hudson Bay’s log truck drivers turned 75!

What have you learned by volunteering?

Even the smallest acts make a difference. For instance, this past summer I had an overabundance of succulent plants called hens and chicks. I dug them up, sold them for five dollars each and gave the money to the local healthcare auxiliary. The ladies who run it were beyond grateful for what I considered to be a small task. I think it’s important to remember that even if you feel like you don’t have a lot to give, whatever you are capable of will be appreciated.

What are your volunteer plans for the year ahead?

I’ll be sticking with many of the same programs and organizations. If I make any changes, it’ll be to follow the activities my kids are drawn to. My son will be 3 years old soon and starting his first extracurriculars, so maybe it’ll be something new and fun.

I’ve been extra motivated to volunteer since our TREE-Mendous Matching Gifts program launched. Last January, I set a goal for myself to complete 100 hours to earn the full $1,500 donation match. I divided it up between the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital; Regina Hospital Foundation Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where my son stayed when he was born; the Hudson Bay Family and Support Center, which is our food bank and crisis response organization; the Hope Foundation, which pays for medical travel for people from Hudson Bay, which is an isolated rural community; and the local hospital healthcare auxiliary. Now, with the $5,000 from this Volunteer of the Year Award, I’ll be able to give even more, which is really exciting!