For the first three years of her life, Maly Bun’s home was a refugee camp in Thailand. Her parents had arrived at the camp several years earlier after fleeing war-torn Cambodia.
In 1989, the young family immigrated to Canada through the private sponsorship of a church in Clinton, Ontario. It’s then that Bun began what has become a life-long relationship with the United Way.
Now her commitment to the United Way is being recognized with the 2015 Labour Appreciation Award. Presented annually, the award recognizes outstanding volunteers within workplaces who contribute to the organization and to their community.
As refugees, Dara and Chuon Bun had a new language to learn, skills to develop and a young and growing family to support. And while they were at school and work, Bun – in her most formative years at the time – participated in a number of programs supported by the United Way.
The importance of voluntarism and community support made an indelible impression on Bun. And it didn’t take long for her to begin to want to give back to the same organization that had been there for her family.
Describing it as her dream come true, Bun began working at the United Way following university. Although she moved to Western to follow her career path, her connection to the organization remained strong and she continued to be involved.
For the past two years, Bun has served as the United Way Employee Campaign Coordinator for Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. In this role, she sets financial goals with the School’s departments, and engages faculty and staff with the campaign through events and activities – all with a goal of raising money to support community efforts.
Throughout the fall, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry enjoyed the pizza lunch launch, the annual Cupcake Day for United Way, basket raffles, the pizza and bingo lunch, the Ace of Cakes Raffle, and Candy Grams – personally delivered by Santa Strong (a.k.a. Dr. Michael Strong). She also led the development of a website used to raise awareness about the campaign and the many planned events at the School.
Energetic and tireless, Bun is also the Act portfolio Chair for the GenNext Cabinet of the United Way. In this role, she has developed a number of events to raise awareness about poverty, mental health and transitions for individuals and families. She has served as a role model by leading a city-wide initiative educating city and community leaders and young professionals about the issues facing individuals and families living in poverty.
Humble to the core, Bun feels that if you believe in something it’s easy to give your time and energy. “I volunteer solely to support the community that I believe in and want to see grow,” said Bun. “If I can inspire others to volunteer then I have achieved an even higher level of success.”
While it’s easy for Bun to remain inspired about giving back, she is grateful for her mentors who provide her with guidance and support her volunteer activities - including Sara Middleton, director, Community Partnerships & Investment, United Way London & Middlesex; Dr. Bertha Garcia, vice-dean, Education; and John Ruicci, director, Education at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.
For her part, Bun has become an inspiration to many faculty and staff at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry for her commitment to the community. “Maly has a strong interest in assisting the community, and as such she lives Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s value of social responsibility,” said Dr. Margaret Steele, Western University’s Co-chair for the United Way’s 2015 campaign.
Bun received her award on January 21 at a special ceremony, sharing what an absolute honour it is to be recognized for something that she loves to do.