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Answering the call

by Krista Habermehl, MA'05 | January 30, 2017

Answering the call
London District Distress Centre legacy lives on thanks to a named award focusing on student volunteerism.

The London and District Distress Centre (LDDC) may have answered its last call, but its legacy of community support will live on through a named student award at Western.

Established in December, the London and District Distress Centre Award will support a Western Social Science student who is an active community volunteer. The award was created and endowed with a gift of $25,000 from LDDC to ensure recognition for students who give of their time and talents to improve the lives of local citizens.

“It feels really good to know that the LDDC name will live on, that the memory will live on and that the award will help Western students pursue their dreams,” said Adrienne James, former Chair of the LDDC Board of Directors, and member since 2008. “If we can help with that and increase the number of students that get an education, then that’s something really positive that has come out of this.”

Due to a redirection of funding from community partners, LDDC closed its doors in 2016 after providing 48 years of around-the-clock empathetic support for individuals experiencing distress and crisis, including mental health issues, feelings of grief or loneliness, addictions and suicidal thoughts. The confidential phone line was operated 24-hours a day, 365 days a year by highly trained and caring volunteers – a large majority of whom were Western students.

“We’ve always had a very strong contingent of student volunteers from Western. They were critical and made up such an important part of our volunteer base,” said James. “To be a volunteer at the centre was a huge commitment. Students gave about 20 hours a month of their time, which is significant.

“To honour what those volunteers gave, we felt the most important factor for the award recipient was to have a demonstrated history of volunteering and a commitment to their community.”

The first award, valued at $1,000, will be available in the 2017-18 academic year. To be considered, eligible students must submit a one-page statement outlining their volunteer activities.

“Volunteer work can be so worthwhile — both for the positive feelings you get from giving and the skills you gain and can take away from the experience. It can be really rewarding,” said James. “If you haven’t tried giving your time in this way, you should definitely think about it. Personally, that’s how I feel. You know you’re doing something good and time can be so much more valuable than money for certain organizations.”

For more information about creating or supporting a student award, contact Carole Stinson, Executive Director, Development Programs (519.661.2111, ext. 85696 or or visit

This article appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of Impact Western
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