History of VIQ

History of VIQ

VIQ was founded in 1966 as the Central Volunteer Bureau by Belleville's volunteer extraordinaire Ruth Burrows...

About Ruth Burrows

Ruth's first volunteer experience took place in Newfoundland, where she relocated to be near her husband, Freeman Burrows, who was serving in the navy. Work at the Red Cross in St. John's marked the beginning of her life of helping others. Soon after World War Two ended, Ruth and Freeman Burrow moved to Belleville along with their two lovely daughters Diane and Evelyn Louise. The Burrows purchased an old Victorian home on Bridge Street. Friends of the family remember Ruth as very giving. She had the gift of making everyone feel welcome. She was a quiet, gentle soul always looking for new ways to help the community.

Ruth became more involved in volunteer work and the needs of the community. Concerned about social service organizations, she formed the Sewette Club to benefit mothers on welfare. The club evolved into Volunteer & Information Quinte. This led to the founding of the Canadian Association of Volunteer Bureaus, where Ruth served as its first Chairperson. She also, sat on the board of the Belleville Family YMCA and Loyalist College, was secretary of the Belleville General Hospital Auxiliary and a founding member of Cheshire Home.

Ruth's remarkable contribution is recognized with the Ruth Burrows Award, named in her honour. Ruth was also, the first recipient of this annual "Volunteer of the Year" award given by Volunteer & Information Quinte to a citizen of Belleville for outstanding volunteer service. Ruth was a recipient of the Canada Lifestyle Award from the Ministry of Health and Welfare for outstanding volunteer services, Paul Harris Fellowship given by the Rotary Club of Belleville in recognition of her outstanding humanitarian contributions and Ontario Premiers Award for exceptional volunteer services to the province of Ontario. In accepting the honour of the Order of Canada, Ruth said that she did so on behalf of all the volunteers of Belleville.

Things became difficult when her husband died in 1989 and she began to spend more time in Nanaimo, BC where her daughters lived. In 1997 Ruth was diagnosed with macular degeneration. Despite these challenges Ruth remained positive and with the help of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind she was able to overcome the difficulties she faced. However, not long after she became seriously ill. While in the hospital, Ruth visited with other patients and spoke to many of them. She always concentrated on the needs of others and in return satisfied her own. On April 16, 1999 Ruth Burrows died of a brain tumor. Her legacy lives on and the Ruth Burrows award is a celebration of the spirit of Volunteerism today.