EDITOR’S NOTE: This article, submitted by Susan Amos, is part of a monthly series, “Cheers for Volunteers”, which highlights local volunteers and their organizations.
This month, in our series, “Cheers for Volunteers”, we cheer Melody Petlock for her work with a
number of different organizations in our community.
Melody was a founding member of the Sackville Commons CoWorking Co-operative and is currently secretary of the Co-operative’s Board. Housed in the Town’s former firehall and police station on Main Street, it provides collaborative working spaces to support innovation and resource sharing (http://www.coworksackville.com).
Petlock was also a founding member of the Open Sky Co-operative where she continues to be a
member. The co-operative, located on an 11-acre farm in Middle Sackville, welcomes
adults who face barriers due to social disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, and/or
mental health challenges like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. This co-operative
provides skills programmes, vocational assistance and community connections for adults who
require support to improve their quality of life (http://openskyco-op.ca/en).
In addition, Petlock is a member of the steering group for the Sackville Community Garden,
located on Charles Street near the train tracks, which is home to almost 30 individual plots as
well as a community section which features herb and vegetables gardens, berry bushes, an
outdoor classroom, composting toilet, tool shed and wood-fired bake oven (https://
As well as her volunteer work, Petlock is also involved in recruiting, training, coordinating and overseeing volunteers for her two paid jobs as executive director of Daybreak Activity Centre and Mount Allison University’s SHARE advisor (Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Education).
Daybreak Activity Centre, which Petlock founded 20 years ago, focuses on mental illness prevention and mental health promotion. It promotes community integration by providing social, vocational, recreational and advocacy activities and helps people become more independent by means of peer support, education and mutual aid.
Members of the activity centre meet with Petlock to create a monthly calendar of activities based on their current interests and needs. The calendar and other information are available at www.daybreaksackvillenb.com.
Petlock uses volunteers to provide many of the activities at Daybreak such as arts and crafts, theatre games, improvisation and physical fitness.
She also partners with other organizations on activities which help Daybreak clients make a contribution to their community. For example, Daybreak works with the Tantramar Family Resource Centre and the Sackville Community Association to make mini-story sacks for the Christmas Cheer initiative. Each cotton drawstring bag contains a book as well as a toy and an arts and crafts activity which match the book. This year, Daybreak has already made 200 mini-story sacks for Christmas 2018.
Petlock’s responsibilities as Mount Allison’s SHARE advisor include administering the university’s Policy on Sexual Violence Response and Prevention and doing case management for faculty, staff and students after disclosures of sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, homophobia and transphobia. She uses volunteer student peer educators who offer education and support. Volunteers also help Melody with a Positive Space Campaign and Walk Home Services.
What motivates Melody to do the work she does?
“I need to do something that matters,” she says. “I like to make a meaningful contribution to my community.”
Petlock sees her membership in the Girl Guides when she was growing up as the biggest influence in terms of her dedication to service. The group she belonged to helped with crisis situations in her community, provided assistance to the homeless and volunteered at countless events to help others.
“We were taught to help others. ‘A Guide thinks of other people before herself.’”
What’s one thing that could make our community better? Petlock would like to see a community resource centre established where people could find information about whatever services they are interested in, whether it’s meeting basic needs like food, clothing or shelter,
emergency assistance, mental health services, recreational activities or volunteer opportunities.
Daybreak can always use more volunteers; the more volunteers it has, the more activities it can
provide for its members.
“There is always lots for volunteers to do,” says Petlock, “ranging from putting up posters to keeping supplies organized, to leading programs. Everyone can do something.”
Petlock intends to register Daybreak in the local volunteer data base; in the meantime, if anyone interested in volunteering with Daybreak can get in touch with Petlock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out our local volunteer data base at volunteertantramar.ca. Whether you’re an
organization looking for volunteers, someone already involved in volunteering or a new
volunteer looking for an opportunity to help out, go into the data base and get yourself
registered. If you need assistance in registering, drop by the Sackville Commons at 64 Main
Street, in the old fire hall, any time Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.