In 2006 Laura Synyard and her husband Keith moved their young family from Alberta to her husband’s home province of Newfoundland. Four short years later Laura found herself presented with the opportunity to volunteer with the inaugural St. John’s Steps for Life walk.
Laura was studying health and safety when Threads of Life board member and St. John’s walk chair Jackie Manuel came to address the class. Jackie was looking for volunteers and Laura was just the person Jackie was looking for. Laura was particularly touched by Shirley Hickman’s story about the workplace death of her son Tim. Laura, a mom herself, was struck by the strength and determination it must have taken for Shirley to take her family’s tragedy and create an organization of support for others and prevention of further tragedies.
“As a health and safety professional it’s my job to prevent workplace tragedies but as a mom the organization just hit home with me,” Laura says. Laura is the mother of three children: Kris is 20, Carly is 19, and Chad is 14. Laura’s children all help out with the walk as their schedules allow.
After that first walk in St. John’s in 2010 Laura was hooked. She has been an active committee member ever since and is looking forward to the 2016 walk. As a lifelong volunteer, she has learned that you don’t need money to make a difference. Often your time is much more valuable to people, and people often just need to know that someone cares.
Laura’s family has recently experienced a tragic loss: her brother-in-law died following a brain stem stroke. Although not a work-related injury it was a tragedy for the family none the less. Laura says they knew what happened to her brother-in-law and why. It reminded her how awful it must be for families whose loved one is injured, killed or made ill in a workplace tragedy, when they have to wait months or years to find out what happened, if ever. Laura is comforted by the knowledge that Newfoundland families are finding the support they need thanks in part to the hard work of the St. John’s walk committee.
Laura has recently expanded her volunteer activities with Threads of Life. Along with her St. John’s walk committee cohort Dayle Biggin, Laura staffed a trade show booth at the 2015 Newfoundland & Labrador Construction Safety Association Safety Conference this past March. Laura is a true ambassador for Threads of Life.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 edition of our free quarterly newsletter, Threads. For more personal stories, news, and information from Threads of Life and our family members, subscribe here.