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Volunteer Spotlight: Sylvia Malgadey

April 15, 2024

Sylvia Malgadey competed for Team Canada in the women’s 100 metres hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The Conestoga resident is still quick on her feet as a Drayton Entertainment volunteer, which sometimes includes dancing with members of the audience.

Sylvia Malgadey with a rescued wolf cub at Wildlife Haven Waterloo.

Sylvia Malgadey volunteers at a number of places, including Drayton Entertainment and Wildlife Haven Waterloo, where she's pictured with a rescued wolf cub.

How long have you been volunteering with Drayton Entertainment, and why did you start?

It’s probably been eight years by now, maybe a little more. Honestly, I have always loved theatre. I’m not an actor, or choreographer, I don’t have any of those talents. My late husband, Mike, and I used to have season tickets to Mirvish in Toronto, and we did packages with Centre In The Square. Then we realized we had something even better even closer, so we’d get Drayton Entertainment season packages. It’s fabulous!

Just after Mike passed I thought, how can I get involved? I would go to the theatre and pick up a friend along the way, because I always had two tickets. I thought, well, I could go to all the performances and do it by myself and contribute. It just sort of developed that way. I don’t have to bug my friends to go with me all the time. I still get the benefit of seeing the shows, and I can do something, right?

Where do you volunteer?

I do Hamilton Family Theatre Cambridge, the Playhouse and the Schoolhouse in St. Jacobs, because they’re close. Occasionally I’ll go to Drayton Festival Theatre, if they need help. When the students are back at school, they often have a hard time finding enough people.

How many hours have you worked as a Drayton Entertainment volunteer?

I have been doing approximately 200 hours a year, give or take. For 2023, I got to 176 hours.

What kind of work did you do before you retired?

I was a high school teacher, and my husband was a foot specialist. His practice just got busier and busier, so I eventually gave up teaching and kind of ran his offices. That kept me busy. He was a hurdler, too. That’s how we met, actually, on the track. 

Are there any other ways that you serve the community?

I’m on the board of directors for Run Waterloo. We do all the races, like the "Re-Fridgee-Eighter", the "ENDURrun", "Dirty Dash", the "Oktoberfest", and "Santa Pur-suit". When they have something new come up, they usually get me to do some of the legwork.

I also volunteer for Wildlife Haven Waterloo. I pick up and deliver injured wildlife, or when they’re ready for release. I could be up at midnight feeding baby squirrels. That’s another real reward because I get to actually handle and work with animals that other people only ever see scampering through their yard.

Why do you find volunteering so fulfilling?

Number one, it gives me something to do. But number two, and probably way more important, is I meet so many wonderful people, and I’ve made so many new friends.

I just like being busy, and I love the people at the theatre. They tease me at the Playhouse and at the Schoolhouse because if there’s a musical, which are kind of my favourite, and the music's going before the show starts, I’ll grab a guy and I’ll say, “You have to dance with me before I can show you to your seat!” 

What was the last Drayton Entertainment show that you saw?

You know, that’s one of the wonderful bonuses of it, you can see the plays. There was one we had called The Crooner, and I loved it, so I volunteered extra for that one. I couldn’t get enough of it. By the end of the six or eight shows I had done, I could have performed it, but not as well!

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