There is something very special about Stephen Langor. Not only is he one of CASA’s longest-standing volunteers, but he’s contributed a total of 200 hours over the years – placing him as one of our most active and enduring volunteers.
Since applying to volunteer in 2017, Stephen has contributed tirelessly whenever given the opportunity, regardless of the task. Working double shifts at our yearly CASA Gala? Sure. Our Golf Classic? No problem. The CASA Youth Council’s illuminatED fair? He’ll be there. And he doesn’t just help out at every event. Stephen also has worked with various CASA programs, transcribing video for our Infant and Preschool Services program, child minding, mentoring youth at CASA House and helping out as a research assistant.
In celebration of National Volunteer Week, we asked Stephen seven questions to pick his brain about what motivates him to be such an incredible volunteer and to give back to the mental health community as a whole.
How long have you been a volunteer with CASA?
I have been honoured and proud to serve as volunteer with CASA for nearly five years, and hope to continue for many more years.
What motivated you to get involved as a volunteer? What attracted you to CASA?
My personal experience with mental illness started as a 16-year-old. Subsequent interactions with many other youth similarly afflicted showed me first-hand how prevalent this illness is in society and how devastating it could be to youth and their loved ones. Furthermore, my experiences with numerous medications and electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) to manage my illness caused me to realize how little was known about the causes of mental illness and how difficult it was to find effective treatment. I saw how poorly-informed our society was, and was disturbed by the still-common stigmas concerning the mentally ill.
I was raised in a culture of volunteerism and eventually was compelled to get involved in some way to support research, treatment and education concerning mental illness. Coincidentally, at about this time my mom performed in an orchestra at a CASA Gala where she was greatly impressed by the organization and the large suite of mental health programs that it organized and supported. I realized that this was the right ‘fit’ for me as CASA supported mental health research, treatment and public education with a focus on children/adolescents and their families.
Can you describe your volunteer involvement at CASA and what programs and events you support?
I have volunteered in several capacities and for numerous events and activities. In the area of promotion and fundraising, I have volunteered at several events including the CASA Galas. To support CASA’s public education initiatives, I have delivered information door-to-door and assisted at lecture series. For a short time, I was paired with a youth at CASA House to help him develop social skills and confidence. I was delighted to have an opportunity to lend my science education and skills to support research by conducting a literature review to help a scientist.
What would you say is your biggest gain from volunteering at CASA? Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of?
My biggest gain was meeting and working with other people who shared my desire to help stamp out the flames of ignorance about mental illness. I was especially satisfied with the opportunity to connect one-on-one with a youth staying at CASA House to develop a relationship of trust and help him improve his social skills and confidence. It was also quite rewarding to put my science education and skills to use to support a research project concerning community-based infant and pre-school mental health services. I was also proud to be part of the highly organized group of volunteers who helped set-up for the annual gala on several occasions; I knew that my small contribution to this important annual fundraiser would also contribute to large financial support for CASA.
With so many great organizations to support, why should others choose to support CASA?
Indeed there are many organizations who strive to make life better for others, and are thus worthy of support. I encourage everyone to make a positive impact by supporting an organization and cause that is meaningful to you. Why support CASA? Mental illness is pervasive and matters have worsened over the last two years. It does not respect age, creed, color, cultural heritage, gender, religion or social and economic status. In any given year, mental illness affects one out of every five people in Canada, and a large proportion of those are children and adolescents.
CASA provides numerous, diverse, interesting and fulfilling opportunities for volunteers to contribute meaningfully to the goals of the organization. Furthermore, CASA highly values its volunteers and does a great job of making them feel appreciated as a part of the CASA family.
How do you take care of your mental health?
Long ago, I learned there are three pillars on which to build a foundation of good mental health and general health: healthy sleep habits, good nutrition and regular exercise. I keep a regular sleep schedule and try to not stray from it even during weekends and holidays. I eat healthy meals at regular times without overeating or indulging in junk food; however, I consider fine chocolate to be an essential ‘food group.’ I abstain completely from alcohol, tobacco and drugs. I like staying fit, mainly by engaging in ball hockey, ice hockey and tennis. I have a diversity of other interests that help keep me balanced, such as cooking (especially Indian food), reading (especially J.R.R. Tolkien literature), music and travelling off the beaten track. I am blessed to have a loving and supportive family, and my Christian faith is at the core of all I do.
If you were superhero, what would your superpower be?
I love the Marvel superheroes and their spectacular superpowers. However, most are marred in some way (e.g., unstable, self-centred). I admire one of the more unsung heroes, Hawkeye, who not only has incredible archery skills (I love archery), but also is a family man which gives his life stability and purpose. I desire to be like that.