Faces of ABLE2 – Anna Bilsky

(as published in the March 2023 ABLE2 Monthly Moments Newsletter)

In honour of Women’s History Month, we would like to recognize one of our many amazing volunteers. Anna Bilsky has been a volunteer with ABLE2 almost from the beginning. Wanting to set an example of volunteerism for her young children, she felt the Matching Program would be a good fit for her. For the past 40 years Anna has balanced volunteering with raising a family and a very accomplished career.

Her first match Michael was very shy and reserved when she met him. Michael had never had a person in his life who was not a family member or a paid support worker. Together they began a 12-year journey of friendship and learning. Michael’s world opened up and his life was soon full of activities and friendships. “I would like to believe that I played a role in that,” says Anna. “Michael was so busy it was hard to get time with him.” The match had accomplished what was intended and they ended the match after 12 years but not the friendship. Michael passed away but Anna will never forget what a wonderful and kind man he was.

Anna was next matched with Ruth. Ruth loved to shop! They spent a great deal of time at Carlingwood Mall, especially Coles. When it came time for Ruth to move into a home Anna was right there helping Ruth’s sister to find the right place for her until her death. Ruth lovingly referred to her as the “third sister”.

Anna’s third match was Marjorie whose passing was featured in our last newsletter. After Marjorie’s husband George passed away, she felt utterly alone in the world. Her grief was compounded by various health issues. Anna helped bring her out into the world with weekly coffee meetings and scratch cards (they called their moment of hope). Anna provided Marjorie with support and was often the voice of reason in her life. 

Anna has also been matched with a second person, Veronica. She has never really felt like Veronica is a “match” as they have had a close friendship for 30 years after meeting while serving on ABLE2’s Board of Directors. Anna has been a big part of my life and has accompanied me on medical appointments and to family weddings. She has really helped me,” says Veronica.

Anna’s time and friendship for people in her life has been profound. Anna is a true leader. ABLE2 celebrates all she has done for her community.