Volunteering is all in a day's work for Teresa DiFalco
By Laura Lennie, News Staff
Teresa DiFalco considers volunteering the highest paying job on earth.
“Money comes and goes and it can’t buy you happiness,” the Stoney Creek resident said. “Volunteering and doing good for others can provide you with a lifetime of happiness and fulfillment.”
DiFalco was introduced to volunteering at a young age as her parents dedicated all of their spare time to assisting others, and started volunteering herself at age 10.
She spent time in local group homes helping children and adults living with disabilities. She also volunteered with the Catholic Youth Organization, different recreation centres and various charities.
“My parents were very big in the community as far as volunteering and assisting others,” DiFalco said. “I can remember always having dinners with different faces around the table because my parents were always opening up their home to people, so helping others was something that I grew up with and something that I carried on. It became part of my everyday life.”
DiFalco has gone on to lend her hands to a number of causes over the years.
She volunteered her talents and time to create and implement a music/theatrical program at the old Winona Public School, after she learned the school had lost its music program funding.
“I have a music background and really wanted to do something to help,” DiFalco said. “Music’s an important part of a child’s life and it’s not just music, it’s the arts and it’s a way to express oneself. It’s an outlet for children, so I felt it to be an important component to part of the education.”
DiFalco directed 60 students from grades three to eight until the school got its music program funding back.
“I didn’t expect to have the turnout I did,” she said. “The kids were fantastic and we had a lot of great times together. They were really wonderful to work with.”
DiFalco continues to provide free vocal coaching and lessons to children and adults who have a desire and passion to learn.
She exercises her own vocal chords at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, where she lends her voice to masses, vigils, weddings and fundraisers, and at different retirement homes, where she volunteers her singing talents to bring a smile to seniors’ faces.
DiFalco also has helped raise awareness and funds for various causes and organizations over the past 40 years, including McMaster Children’s Hospital, the Canadian Cancer Society, Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, Heart and Stroke Foundation and United Way.
In addition, she has been a long-standing member of the Catholic Women’s League and volunteers her time as the publisher and chief editor of The Hamiltonian, a not-for-profit online media source that reports on local issues and encourages civic engagement.
“I have a great team of volunteers that assist with The Hamiltonian,” DiFalco said. “It brings forth the important issues of the day within the community and offers an opportunity to provide comment and get involved. It’s also used to advertise different events and fundraisers and promote local businesses.”
When she’s not advocating for others or assisting with different causes, DiFalco is opening up her home for community gatherings, so that residents can get to know each other and get involved with helping one another and making the community a better place to live, work and play.
DiFalco said volunteering and doing good for others builds character and enrich one’s soul.
“Volunteering is a privilege,” she said. “It makes me who I am today. There is no better feeling than laying your head down on your pillow each night with a smile on your face, knowing that you’ve helped make someone’s life a bit better or made a little difference in some way.”
That attitude has led DiFalco to be named the Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Citizen of the Year.
She will be honoured during the commerce’s annual Community Awards and banquet tomorrow (Thursday) at Winona Vine Estates.
DiFalco said she’s humbled by the award.
“It feels kind of weird having that title beside my name,” she laughed. “People don’t volunteer because they’re looking for any payment or recognition, they do it because they want to. There are so many people doing good for others in this community and it’s a wonderful honour to be among them.”
DiFalco said volunteering is its own reward.
“Doing something good for someone brings you internal happiness, it brings you peace,” she said. “It gives you a good feeling and that’s something that lasts forever.”