|Marie Ryall with her volunteer awards. Photo taken by Terra Barrett.|
Marie Ryall grew up in the West end of St. John’s. Her daughter, Rhonda, lives in Nova Scotia with her husband. They have three children, and Marie is now the proud great grandma of four.
Marie considers her life in two stages: before and after the accident. In 1990, she was in a head-on collision while driving to Nova Scotia to visit her daughter for Christmas:
“It was a life-changing experience. After the accident my marriage broke up, and that’s when I started to live for myself.”
For Marie, living for herself meant a chance to help others. “Because I was so lucky that I had lived, I wanted to get into volunteering with those who are less fortunate than me and who experienced likewise. I just want to be part of a team that’s out there helping others. You know, and it gives me a sense of purpose. As I said, it’s a two way street. You help someone, you’ll get it back millions of times over.”
During Marie’s working years, she collected for the Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation and was team captain of the Arthritis Society in her area. After she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia she helped to launch a support group for sufferers of the disease. She continues to volunteer at the Miller Center Veteran’s Pavilion, has been volunteering at the Agnes Pratt Nursing Home since 2001, and is an active member of the City of St. John’s Senior’s Outreach Program. Once a year, she helps out with the Children’s Wish Foundation.
”When I look back over the years and realize how many new friends I’ve made through volunteering, and the events that I’ve experienced getting involved with them and their families, it gives me such a very, very gratifying feeling. My motto is that by helping others you help yourself.”