Nayeli Cruz-Iqbal

“Whatever happens, happens.”

We constantly value the help of dedicated volunteers like Nayeli Cruz-Iqbal, who volunteers the summers with us at the BCMOS paddling program. Nayeli’s responsibilities consist of accompanying people on the water in beautiful False Creek and ensuring they feel safe and comfortable. This past summer has been her second year, and she is looking forward to continuing to help out in 2022.

A fun fact about Nayeli is that her sibling has also been volunteering at the adaptive sailing association for roughly four years, before eventually becoming a staff member. She observed her sibling as they interacted with their clients and was inspired by how they handled and overcame certain situations with such ease. Nayeli’s urge to contribute to her community and volunteer her time and efforts is exactly why she is such an important asset to BCMOS. Her intentions are genuine and she truly cares about her clients. Her interests lie in social work, so she felt that this was the right direction for her to take, especially because she loves being active, particularly in the outdoors.

Nayeli values equality and equity and feels that there is a lack of people who are willing to be there for others who do not have the same opportunities as them. She still recalls this particular client who was in a wheelchair but remained so passionate about the rights of people with all sorts of disabilities. They conversed amicably throughout the day, which Nayeli greatly enjoyed as it not only made the whole experience more fun but also allowed her to gain a lot of insight as her perspective on this issue expanded.

Nayeli paddleboarding with a client

Volunteering at the BCMOS brings Nayeli a lot of happiness, as she is surrounded by a devoted community of wonderful people. It is very rewarding to see the big smiles on clients’ faces after a fun time paddling, and wholesome to watch people form new connections with others. Nayeli feels a sense of camaraderie when she works there, as, after all, she volunteers in an environment filled with people with the same passions.

Part of the knowledge that Nayeli gained throughout these last two summers volunteering, is how as a new generation especially, “we’re not so willing to approach others and start conversations.” But she defied this notion, and talked to a lot of different people, uplifting their voices no matter what their age or their background. One notable change she quickly identified in herself, is how, just like her sibling, these volunteer opportunities helped her learn that not everything is predictable and that we have the capabilities to quickly adapt to unfamiliar situations. “Whatever happens, happens,” she says.

Overall, we are extremely grateful for Nayeli’s committed and joyful persona, as well as her insightful take on the impact volunteering has had on her in the last two years. She strongly encourages people to join the team! “You’re just gonna meet so many people and you’re just gonna be put in so many different situations,” which will allow you to develop and apply useful skills in life. Funnily enough, Nayeli’s only worry going into this for the first time was that she would tip over the paddleboard and fall with the client, which did not happen as the equipment is very safe and sturdy, and she felt the constant support of the other workers around her. So join us next summer, and have some fun in the water with our wonderful BCMOS team!