In 2017, Eugene Gutierrez and his family experienced an unimaginable tragedy when Eugene’s father Eulogio “Bot” Gutierrez, a veteran mining survey technician, on the verge of retirement, died after being struck by a piece of mobile equipment in an underground mine.
Eugene first learned about Threads of Life following his dad’s passing. He and his family were searching for a charity that family and friends could donate to in lieu of sending flowers. “Threads of Life seemed relevant since they were a charity geared towards helping families that had been impacted by a work-related tragedy and also focused on workplace injury prevention.”
Eugene was reminded of Threads of Life by his WSIB case worker when he was looking for additional support in the aftermath of his father’s death. Eugene contacted Threads of Life and was paired with a Volunteer Family Guide.
It was through his Volunteer Family Guide that Eugene learned about Steps for Life. “I wanted to learn more and meet other family members,” he recalls. “After attending my first walk in 2018 and seeing the impact of the event, I knew I wanted to get involved and contacted members of the planning committee to offer my help.”
The next year, Eugene was asked to facilitate a session at the Central Family Forum. Knowing he still wanted to be more involved, he decided that he wanted to join the Speakers Bureau. “I attended the Speakers Bureau training at the end of February 2020,” he recalls, “just before the world changed.”
Later this year, Eugene will attend Volunteer Family Guide training, and will then be able to offer one on one peer support to others.
Eugene felt compelled to volunteer for Threads of Life. “My initial reason for volunteering was that I needed something that would allow me to find meaning in my dad’s passing, so his death was not in vain. Supporting Threads of Life’s mission helped meet that need.”
Eugene has many fond memories from his work as a volunteer with Threads of Life, but one that stands out happened recently at Steps for Life. “I was taking photos of our participants at Springbank Park in London and randomly bumped into a friend who just happened to be at the park. She asked about the event and my involvement with it. I enthusiastically told her about Threads of Life and Steps for Life and was struck by her immediate reaction…the look of revelation on her face in learning that such an organization exists. Getting the word out there, informing people one by one, is important.”
In addition to volunteering for Threads of Life, Eugene occasionally speaks to students in Western University’s Information and Media Studies Program, and Fanshawe College’s Interactive Media Design and Production Program. He is a graduate of both programs and speaks about his industry experience and career path. He is also called upon sometimes to mentor students.
Eugene is passionate about volunteering for Threads of Life. “There are no second chances when it comes to workplace safety. Supporting Threads of Life’s mission to ensure that our loved ones come home safe, sound and alive should be important to everyone.”