Trinity’s Vital Volunteers

At the heart of the Trinity community are many alumni who continue to contribute to the College long after their graduations. National Volunteer Week (April 14-20, 2024) is an opportunity to celebrate the generosity and spirit of these amazing volunteers. 

By Jennifer Matthews

In honour of National Volunteer Week, we spoke with three amazing alumni from different generations, each of whom continues to enrich the Trinity community through their ongoing connections.

Peter “PJ” Lewis ’54 has been giving back to Trinity for over half a century. Right now, he is in the process of helping to organize his class’ 70th Reunion, but he started a long time ago as a member of Corporation. A retired Chartered Accountant, he has served as chair of the Finance Committee, and chair of the Executive Committee. He also took on “the books” for the Friends of the Library, acting as treasurer and managing the finances of the Trinity College Annual Book Sale for many years while his wife, Joyce (Cartwright) Lewis ’54, was a devoted Book Sale volunteer. He later joined the massive annual effort of unpacking and categorizing countless books. In 1996, Peter received the Arbor Award, U of T’s highest honour for volunteer service.

Heather Gibson ’73 has been one of her class reps since the early 1980s, and helped to organize a special 50th celebration for her classmates at last year’s Reunion, but her commitment to Trinity goes far beyond her connection to her classmates. She is also a past president of the St. Hilda’s College Alumni Association, and a past chair of the St. Hilda’s Board of Trustees. She chaired the College’s Centenary Committee in 1988, has volunteered with the Trinity College Book Sale for several years, has been an assessor of student applications, and is an active member of Corporation. In 2023, she took on a new challenge and became the co-chair of the Gerald Larkin Society, together with Rev. Darcey Lazerte ’94, ’96, ’13, helping to connect with a special group of donors who have remembered Trinity in their Wills.

Christopher Hogendoorn ’14 was recognized by his classmates at graduation with the C.A. Ashley Award for his outstanding contributions to the Trinity community during his undergraduate years and received the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award. That same day, he signed up to become one of his class reps and is currently helping to plan a special event for their 10th Reunion this spring. Chris’ connections to Trinity have been a combination of volunteer and paid roles. After completing graduate studies at the iSchool at U of T, he joined the John W. Graham Library and Trinity College Archives as Special Collections Librarian and Project Archivist for six years, building on his experiences as a student assistant in the library and in the Trinity Archives. He also became secretary of Corporation, a post he held until 2021. A fount of knowledge on all things Trinity, the College is close to Chris’ heart.

Our Trinity connections

CHRIS: I was the first in my family to go to university. In high school my father and I went to fall campus day. Bruce Bowden [then Trinity’s Registrar] made a presentation in the Hart House Theatre about the registration process and said “most of you will apply to Trinity, and almost none of you will get in.” And I thought that sounded like a challenge. Then we went into the Book Sale. And I thought, “this is just astounding.” I’ve loved it ever since.

HEATHER: Most of my closest friends are lifelong friends I met at Trinity. I had a wonderful experience living at St. Hilda’s, taking interesting classes, participating in student life. My years at the College have had a huge influence on my life.

PETER: My undergraduate years were challenging, academically speaking. I initially found it difficult to find the right course of study for me. At the same time, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the College. I made many friends and was fortunate to experience living in residence for part of my studies. I also dated Joyce Cartwright, and we became one of the first couples to be married in the Trinity Chapel in 1955.

Why we give back

PETER: Joyce and I moved out of the city for the first 20 years of our marriage and lost touch with the College. When we returned to Toronto, someone from the College—I don’t remember who!—reached out and asked if I would join the Finance Committee. I said yes because I had such happy memories of my College days, and I thought it would be interesting work. Joyce became involved with the Friends of the Library, and we were both hooked. I have also been a donor for years because I believe that every organization needs financial support.

CHRIS: I lived in residence in my first year and had a wonderful experience. I was able to continue living on campus all four years because I received the William and Nona Heaslip Scholarship. An important part of that award is supporting students in having a full Trinity experience, including extracurricular involvements. I remember sitting down with Nona Heaslip [1930-2024] and past and present Heaslip Scholars the fall of my second year. Listening to Nona and others share their experiences was powerful—the message of giving back as much as you get really stayed with me.

HEATHER: We can’t just warm a seat on this planet. I joined the Gerald Larkin Society because I believe if you can, you should leave something to the causes that are closest to your heart. I later accepted the post of co-chair of the Gerald Larkin Society because I liked and admired Jack Whiteside [1940-2023; former chair of the Gerald Larkin Society] and feel honored to help carry on the mantle.

What we get back

HEATHER: The world changes and we must change with it. I am interested in understanding what today’s students have done and are doing. I like having a sense of what’s going on at the College. My connections to the College feed many of my interests and help me to stay engaged.

CHRIS: Trinity was the first place I remember feeling “I belong here; these are my people.” I enjoyed the academics but honestly, I feel like my major at Trinity was Trinity College itself. I think I will always be involved with the College at some level because it’s a great community. I really enjoy being around people, not always from my generation, who share my fondness for the College. After I graduated, I realized how cool it was that I was now volunteering with the Book Sale, which had played an important part in my decision to apply to Trinity in the first place.

PETER: In my early volunteer roles, I enjoyed learning interesting things about the College and how it worked. Those roles led to my positions on the Board. Later on, participating in the governance of a worthwhile institution like Trinity was an honour for me. My years as a member of the Friends of the Library and helping with the Book Sale were an opportunity for me to reconnect with old friends and to make new ones. People will volunteer with the College for all sorts of reasons—for some it will be personal, for others because of their particular connections. No matter the reason, I highly recommend it.

Are you interested in becoming a Trinity volunteer? Visit our web site to learn more or contact

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