Julie Nobert DeMarchi loves volunteering and giving back her knowledge, time, support and expertise to other people.
DeMarchi is the executive director of the Timmins and Area Women in Crisis and a founding member and a women’s council ambassador at Fierté Timmins Pride.
Ever since she started volunteering in junior high school, she’s never stopped doing it.
“It gives me passion and drive. It fuels my heart, my soul,” she says. "I feel good when I give back."
Some of her volunteer experience includes working with the Tobacco Free Coalition of Timmins, Timmins Minor Hockey, the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, Fierté Canada Pride, planning various festivals and events including Ontario Hockey Federation championships, sitting on various committees through work, managing two women’s travelling softball teams, being regional director of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and more.
DeMarchi laughs saying it’s “ridiculous” how much volunteer work she’s done but she really enjoys it.
By volunteering, “that’s how you move important conversations forward as well,” she says.
In the early 2000s, she was a foster parent with NEOFACS for about six years. The experience was good and bittersweet at times, she says.
DeMarchi was a foster parent for a total of about 30 children. Her home was one of the few ones that also took teenagers in, and it wasn’t easy, she says.
Foster parents put their heart and soul into committing to trying to help the children, she says. DeMarchi kept a close relationship with three of her foster children speaking with them on a regular basis. Seeing the children go off and become successful makes her proud.
“Success is different for everyone. The fact they’re able to be functioning adults in a good positive way: that’s success given the circumstances that some of them have been in,” she says. “It was really something that made my heart smile.”
When DeMarchi came out in 2005, she chose to do it for several reasons.
At the time, it was not greatly accepted as it is now and it was a challenge, she says. As a mother of three and someone who was well-known in the community, she decided it was very important to be public about it.
The only way to create acceptance is if people put themselves out there, create visibility and talk about it, she says. DeMarchi also felt that if she were more public about it, she would get less backlash.
“It was important to me to be honest and upfront about who I was, and not hide,” she says.
For six years, DeMarchi was a commanding officer with the Timmins navy league. Seeing the children grow and creating a supportive atmosphere for them was amazing, she says.
According to DeMarchi, it was the first navy league corps in the province that created a safe space for transgender children. That was one of the volunteer roles she’s enjoyed the most because she was working with youth.
“I really loved seeing the children grow,” she says.
One of her guiding principles is that any conversation can happen and any message can be delivered as long as it's delivered with kindness, compassion and empathy. She's always carried that through her work and her volunteer work.
DeMarchi says she always goes back to being kind. Being kind, in her opinion, also encompasses honesty and humility. If someone hears ideas or opinions that they don’t understand or agree with, DeMarchi advises taking the time to listen and understand where those ideas come from and to approach things in life with an open heart and an open mind.
“If people can be kind, the world would be a much better world,” she says. “Just never pass judgment on other people. Let’s help each other out and celebrate our successes and give each other a helping hand.”
A world with no suffering and poverty is one of DeMarchi’s dreams.
It’s a big dream, she admits, but if everyone contributes even in a small way, the world may change. Locally, she wants to see a healthy, diverse and inclusive community where the opioid crisis is gone, and homelessness and violence against women are eradicated.
“I want to see folks be good, kind, love and take care of each other,” she says.
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com