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The Volunteer Factor - Lifting Communities




During the week of April 7th, we celebrate and thank all the volunteers J.D. Irving has throughout the organization. On top of their busy schedules, these employees find time out of their day to lift the community by coaching, mentoring, helping those in need, and assisting when the unexpected may happen. Volunteering allows you to connect with your community and make a difference to the lives of people, animals and organizations in need.


Ben Webster and Tristan Johnson of CFM volunteer with the Special Olympics, coaching Powerlifting for the “Fundy Lifters”. The team consists of 3 athletes, who train once a week at Afterburn Performance. Their workouts consist of squats, dead-lifting and bench pressing in hopes of attending Provincials which host hundreds of athletes each year.

“It’s been a really rewarding experience. Sometimes you get to learn just as much from them as they do from you”, says Ben who has been a coach with the Special Olympics for over 4 years. "Volunteering with a group like this just makes me want to continue to do more."

Tristan is in his first year of volunteering and says it has been nothing but amazing. “I absolutely love it. It’s been such an incredible experience so far. Training them from the ground up and watching how much they’ve improved always puts a smile on my face. I can’t wait for next year.”

 Ben and Tristan with Team - Volunteer Week 2019


Glen Fillmore, Director of Network Services with our Information Technology Division at J.D. Irving, has been volunteering as an auxiliary constable with the Saint John Police Force for 20 years. 

Within those dedicated years, Glen started the "Junior Police Academy", a partnership between the boys and girls club of Saint John and the Saint John Police Force. The academy is a mentorship program between police officers and youth at risk, and is a two year commitment before the youth are able to graduate as Junior Constables. 

"The program is founded on the development of relationships, commitment, responsibility and empowerment, and is the transformational tool to influence success in personal responsibility, education and life for these youth.", says Glen. 

Watch Glen and some members of the academy as they practice for their upcoming graduation here:

 Glen Fillmore - Volunteer Week 2019



 Junior Police Academy Graduates - Volunteer Week - 2019





PALS (Partners Assisting Local Schools) is an internationally and nationally honored anti-poverty initiative, founded by Mr. J.K. Irving in 2000. What began with one school and one business has grown to more than 30 schools and over 150 business partners. 

Hundreds of PALS volunteers are now working with our students and schools to make a positive impact. Many students are supported by employees of the founding partner J.D. Irving, Limited who volunteer upwards of two hours a week. 

To date, over 90,000 hours of JDI employee volunteer time has been dedicated to this wonderful program. 

Reading, math, work placements, sports and music are only few of the initiatives in which our volunteers help with. 

Riding the Rails with PALS 

We're celebrating 18 years of Riding the Rails with PALS (Partners Assisting Local Schools)! 

Each October, NBM Railways partners with PALS schools to bring Grade 4 students on a wonderful adventure - a train ride in vintage Via Rail passenger cars, thanks to the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. J.K. Irving, Mr. J.D. Irving and Mr. Ian Simpson, the railway's General Manager. 

Volunteer coordinators spend the summer scheduling the rides, ensuring all 17 partner schools have the opportunity to be involved. Countless volunteers have been involved over the years, including folks associated with PALS, the railway, the schools and parents. When PALS began partnering with High Schools, students began to volunteer as well. 

 TRN - Volunteer Week 1 - 2019


In the early years of the program, Mrs. Jean Irving and friends personally made lunches for students on the train. Now that numbers have grown, students are provided with pizza lunches, delivered mid-ride to the amazement of many children!

"There is nothing like seeing little smiling faces so excited when they arrive to board the train.  Some children think we are 'leaving the country,'" remarks Lorrie Johnson, Safety, Security & Community Relations Administrator with the railway. "They are full of questions and have the best belly laughs….  I think the best part is seeing the students so relaxed. By the second half of the trip many are curled up and asleep.  Knowing that they feel that safe to fall asleep with us is pretty special."

 TRN - Volunteer Week 2 - 2019


Over nearly two decades, this program has seen 72 PALS train rides and well over 10,000 students have participated. In 2018 alone, more than 1000 students experienced (for most) their very first train ride. 

In addition to their partnership with PALS, NBM Railways also provides train rides to Kids' Club members. The picture below is from 2002 - several of those pictured now have careers with JDI and are actively volunteering in their communities!

 TRN - Volunteer Week 3 - 2019


NBM Railways also supports the Children's Wish Foundation, culminating in its annual Polar Express event. This would not be possible without dedicated volunteers from both the railway and the foundation. To learn more about this incredible event, click here.

Interested in becoming a volunteer with PALS? Contact Deb Fisher at 


JDI Helps is an initiative of J.D. Irving, Limited. It is about giving back to the communities where we love to work and live.

In September 2018, 19 volunteers from JDI took part in building a house for Habitat for Humanity. 

Habitat for Humanity is a national, non-profit organization working towards a world where everyone has a decent and affordable place to call home. 

“I’ve known about Habitat for Humanity for a while and I think that the work that they do is really amazing, but I’ve never had the opportunity to be able to volunteer,” said Allison Poitras, one of the JDI volunteers. “When I saw that JDI was getting involved, I really wanted to get involved as well.” 

Watch more here:




While we find many of our employees volunteering with initiatives outside of the organization, we also have many who volunteer their time at company sponsored events. See two stories below from our Woodlands Division:





Happy National Volunteer Week!