As CMHA BC’s trusty receptionist, many of you will have had the pleasure of meeting or speaking to Walter on the phone. He calms interview anxieties, greets volunteers, and welcomes all new visitors to our offices with a friendly and warm demeanor and a reliable choice of coffee or water.
At CMHA BC’s recent Annual General Meeting, Walter was presented with CMHA BC’s Kind Heart Award in recognition of the wonderful work he does every day helping staff and visitors and making them feel welcome and at ease.
After working with CMHA BC for nearly 20 years, he has in many ways become the official “voice” of the organization. Almost anyone that calls or visits CMHA BC for the first time will speak to Walter before anyone else—and everyone seems to have a “Walter story” to tell.
His job description includes 49 separate responsibilities to balance—all while keeping watch on the front door and phone. This last task is something of a full-time job in and of itself: when Walter first began working with CMHA, he had around 20 calls per day. Now, he receives upwards of 75.
His biggest challenge, he says, is having enough time to take care of everything.
Walter is ever-present in the more unusual CMHA encounters as well. When Ride Don’t Hide founder Michael Schratter initially contacted the organization about his round-the-world-bike trip, the first person he spoke with was – of course – Walter.
“He said ‘Hi, my name is Michael Schratter and I want to ride around the world on my bicycle,’” says Walter. “He’s a very nice guy.”
That particular phone call sparked something bigger than anyone could have imagined at the time. Today, the Ride Don’t Hide movement has become a nation-wide fundraiser that engages Canadians from all walks of life, and raised over $1 million in 2015 alone. Such is often the case with Walter: for impacts big or small, he is right there when things happen.
Despite the fast pace, Walter wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I like working here. It’s a fun job. I get to help people. That’s what makes me happiest,” he says.