WITHOUT VOLUNTEERS, A COMMUNITY COULD NOT FLOURISH – Cdr(NL) Anne-Marie Fournier
It was by pure chance that Navy League Commander(NL) Anne-Marie Fournier discovered the Navy League Cadet program in the fall of 2006 when she enrolled her son, who had just turned 9 years old.
Since then, she has served in various capacities at all levels in the organization, including as a member of the Board of Directors, director of communications, helping with the canteen, the management of Supply and the distribution of uniforms to cadets, and a Cadet Instructor.
At the end of January 2011, Anne Marie participated in her first Navy League training course and obtained her Officer Warrant and her Midshipman(NL) rank. It was then that her career began as an officer for the Navy League of Canada, Quebec Division.
Since then, Cdr(NL) Fournier has climbed the ranks one by one within Navy League Cadet Corps 182 Salaberry where she occupied the positions of Administrative Officer, Supply Officer, Executive Officer, and finally became Commanding Officer in 2015. During her command, the cadet corps received the Gold Award Certificate for Best Growth in 2016-2017 for growing the cadet population by 50 percent.
Outside of the Navy League Cadet Corps, Cdr(NL) Fournier has also participated in the organization of the Flotilla as an Administrative Officer, coordinating the arrival and departure of cadets for the Quebec Navy League Provincial Camp Marsouin. In addition, she took a position as a cadet advisor, and coordinated the restructuring and translation of the cadet training program for Quebec Division, while also being part of the national working group updating the cadet training program.
In an exclusive interview for the AWESOME VOLUNTEER series, Cdr(NL) Fournier, who was recently named the 2021 Navy League Officer of the Year shared her journey as a volunteer.
- What did you do before joining the Navy League Cadet Volunteer program?
Before joining the Navy League Cadets, I was a stay-at-home mom. I have been volunteering in my community for over 5 years. First, by getting involved in the Administrative Board of my son’s preschool and then his primary school’s Parent Association. Community involvement is very important to me. Without volunteers, a community could not flourish.
- How did your journey as a volunteer begin?
The closest cadet corps to our home is more than 30 minutes from the house. This made me stay all evening waiting for my son to finish his training. So, I thought to myself, why not help? I started as a Director within the Branch of the NL cadet corps in my area. I was on the Board of Directors for over 4 years and then transferred as an Officer with the Navy League Cadet Corps when my daughter was 9 years old.
- What is the most interesting thing for you as a volunteer?
It is very important for me to be involved in my children’s activities. In my opinion, this shows our children that what they love to do is valuable. Following your child, and encouraging them in the pursuit of their activities shows them that we support them. Watching your child grow, develop skills, and flourish is wonderful. Even though they are not our children, witnessing the development of [cadets] from nine years old all the way to nineteen years old one day at a time is amazing. Seeing their potential and helping them discover all that they are capable of accomplishing is so meaningful, it is priceless. In addition, without realizing it, we grow too and we discover skills that we did not believe we had and develop facets of ourselves that we did not imagine. We all surpass ourselves, young and old.
- As the Navy League Officer of the Year, what advice do you have to give other volunteers and potential volunteers?
Working with the Navy League Cadet Program is like being part of a big family. As in any family, it is not always easy or simple, our values and ideals are confronted and it takes a lot of resilience and ingenuity. But it’s so worth it. It’s a lot of work, but the result is incredible. To see young people thrive, and be happy while having fun is a privilege. Having a positive impact on a young person’s life, offering them a safe space where they feel comfortable and at ease to develop their leadership skills is a huge honor. What could be more rewarding for them and us? My “pay” is when I’m at a restaurant with friends and a lady taps me on the shoulder and says, “Madame Fournier? I’m the mom of so-and-so, my son loved you so much. He still talks about you. He loved the cadets so much. You have no idea how much a great impact you had on his life. Now, he is working, and doing very well. His little brother is now old and I would like him to join you. Are you still with the cadet program?” Or when you walk into a store and the person at the cash register comes running to you to say hello and to remind you that she was your youngest cadet a few years ago with a big smile. It’s just so priceless …
You have to remember that there is no such thing as too small of a contribution. Whether you have one hour or twenty hours to give, your contribution is just as valuable and important. So, if you have the time, no matter how much, don’t hesitate to join the great Navy League family, you will see it will be worth it.