Not All Heroes Wear Capes

By Elise Ferguson, Manager Stevedoring Operations, Vancouver


If society is the damsel in distress – does that make volunteers, Superheroes? Maybe…

Superheroes swoop in when there’s a crisis and swoop out when it’s solved. That is how my volunteer journey at Covenant House Vancouver began six years ago.

Every winter, as we approached the holiday season, our thoughts turned toward helping others in need. Ceres Vancouver participated in the Covenant House backpack campaign. A wonderful program!

We collected donations, pooled our Safety Incentive funds, and spent the day shopping for essentials that you and I both take for granted and desperately need for homeless youth.  Then happily stuff it all into 20-30 backpacks while thinking about how this will help those in need. It was a once-a-year swoop in and swoop out.

I couldn’t help feeling however that I wanted more. Satisfaction more than once a year. The call came with the introduction of the Ceres Community Program to “be more,” to “do more” in our communities, it provided the push I needed.

Oh! To don the red cape and assume the Superhero position… you know the one I mean… legs firmly planted on the ground, hands folded on hips, head held high and cape blowing in the wind… was exciting and I couldn’t wait… but what do I do? Where do I focus my attention? And how do I do this now at the start of the pandemic?

I decided to stay with Covenant House Vancouver. This organization that provides important resources to our most vulnerable in the community – our homeless youth, canceled many of their programs and canceled all visitors to their facility, but they still needed help and I found my place in the form of Mentorship. I applied for the program, took all the required training, and was accepted as a Mentor.

I was matched with a young man – 19 years old in their crisis program. From our first meeting, I knew this is what I was meant to do. I could help this young person with career resources and guidance and just be a constant, stable adult in his life. I could help end what is for many youths, a vicious cycle of homelessness and instability.

I was incredibly humbled by this young man and his story. He has overcome so much, and I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know him and help him find his way.

This experience has changed my point of view, educated me, and helped break stereotypes. I found myself in situations I never thought I would be in, doing things I never thought I would be doing.

Volunteering opened a whole new window of possibilities and experiences. I stopped wanting to become better than other people and I started wanting to outgrow myself.

This young man changed me, became part of my lifeline. Maybe I’m not the Superhero in this scenario… maybe I was the one who was rescued… my Superhero doesn’t wear a cape.

If you’re considering getting into volunteering but aren’t too sure, my advice is to go for it! Every opportunity out there is unique and potentially life-changing. I found my place in volunteering and hope you can find yours.

“Heroes are made by the path they choose, not the powers they are graced with.” — Iron Man

Elise Ferguson with her Ceres Cause Cards. For every 10 hours of volunteer time, an employee wins a Cause Card.

Ceres Community Investment Program

Ceres pays employees for up to 40 hours of volunteering on company time. Elise Ferguson, Manager of Stevedoring Operations in Vancouver, participated in the Ceres Community Investment Program. In 2021, she won four Ceres Cause Cards. To win a Cause Card, employees must volunteer 10 hours at a Ceres corporate-supported non-profit. For every 10 hours of logged time, employees will receive a virtual $100 Ceres Cause Card for donation to any one of the corporate-supported organizations. Corporate-supported organizations are Covenant House, World Wildlife Fund, The Mission To Seafarers, and Mercy Ships.

Ceres Terminals

Ceres is a leader among marine terminal operators and stevedores in North America. Operating in many of North America’s major marine ports, the Company provides terminal management as well as services for all types of cargo, including container, bulk, breakbulk, automotive, project, military, cruise, intermodal facilities, RO/RO operations, and M&R services.