Countering Narrative

Meet Sara Mwamba, member of ECF’s Human Service Sub-committee

“I just think it’s really important to give back,” Sara Mwamba says.

She’s done plenty of giving over the years: A trained sociologist, Mwamba has offered her expertise to a wide range of organizations. In fact, her first involvement with Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) came while representing another group at an ECF “think tank,” where they were gathering feedback on the types of grants they provide.

“They mentioned that if anybody was interested, there was some other work that they were looking at for other committees,” Mwamba recalls. “It seemed interesting.”

That was two years ago, and Mwamba has been volunteering with ECF’s Human Service Sub-committee ever since. In that role, she helps appraise project proposals that support social welfare and overall well-being for individuals and families. She knows how valuable those services can be.

“I’m from an immigrant family,” she says. “I know that my family used a lot of social services and benefited from that.”

“Oftentimes there’s this rhetoric that immigrants just take and don’t give back — I think that this is also a way to counter that narrative,” Mwamba continues, of volunteering her skills in this capacity.

In addition to her Human Services work, Mwamba was also part of a special ECF committee formed last spring as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country. On the Emergency Community Support Fund committee, she helped process applications rapidly, to fund organizations in difficult times.

“I think it was in the hundreds, and it was in such a short turnaround time,” she recalls. “We would get the application on Monday, and by Thursday we had to review the application.”

But being a part of that process counts among Mwamba’s proudest work with ECF.

“It was just nice to know that I was still helping out the community, even though I couldn’t be out there — just knowing that the funds were going to so many different things,” she says.

Now, a year later, Mwamba notes she’s seeing some of those projects come back around, meaning their pilot versions were successful, and worth repeating. It’s a reminder of how impactful this work can be.

“I’ve had a really great experience,” she says of volunteering with ECF. “I didn’t know anybody when I started, I just cold turkey-ed it. I would encourage anybody to come forward if they have the time and the energy.”