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Halifax Heroes: Lower Sackville woman puts heart into volunteer work

Jenny Tyler volunteered with Autism Nova Scotia for six years before being hired by the non-profit organization just six months ago.

Jenny Tyler of Autism Nova Scotia.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Jenny Tyler of Autism Nova Scotia.

When Jenny Tyler immigrated from England 10 years ago, she wanted a better life for her family.
Her neighbours and those who surround her would say she has created a better life for them.
The Lower Sackville resident volunteered with Autism Nova Scotia for six years before being hired by the non-profit organization just six months ago.
She is the regional vice-chairperson for Sackville-Bedford Special Olympics and runs that organization’s local Active Start program for young children. In the past, she has also donated her time to an early childhood intervention program and a Sackville-based networking group.
To those who know her, she’s also a kind-hearted, generous friend and neighbour. When asked what she thought about her Halifax Heroes nomination, Tyler said she initially assumed it was a joke.
“I would not have done this in the UK. I was very much blue collar, head down, do my job, go home and that was that,” she said of her volunteer work.
“But I guess having a child with special needs and moving in the circles of other parents with children with special needs, there’s a need for people to step up out of their comfort zone. As much as this is out of my comfort zone it has also given me so much.”
Her journey into volunteering began when her now 12-year-old son Xavier was diagnosed with autism shortly after starting school.
“I guess the world stopped for us for a bit while we came to terms with it, but it also made me realize that more was needed in our community, and from there I kind of stepped up wherever I could,” she recalled.
When Tyler talks about her volunteer work, her face lights up. With her early childhood education background, children and families are one of her passions. She said her Saturday mornings with families in the Special Olympics’ Active Start program bring joy to her life.
“I don’t think I could ever give that up,” she said.
“Our children are amazing and seeing them change and learn new skills so quickly is wonderful. And it really empowers the families to carry what we learn on a Saturday into their day to day life at home.”
Her neighbour Niki Toomey nominated Tyler for her volunteerism and selfless nature. Toomey said Tyler and her family don’t have a lot, but give so much.
“It doesn’t matter how hard it is living over here and being an immigrant over here. What my children have is more than we could ever have given them,” she said.
“Money can’t buy everything. We have proved that. But your heart can buy a lot.”

How was Jenny Tyler was nominated as a Halifax Hero for Metro?

Tyler's neighbour Niki Toomey said she nominated Tyler without hesitation.

"On a personal note, Jenny saved my life when I first had my daughter. My husband worked at sea and I was dealing with post-partum depression. From visits to dinner, errands and just being there, I don’t know what I would have done without her," Toomey said.
"She is someone who gives more than they have and expects nothing in return. She is a beautiful person and would make a great feature for your piece."

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