CoachActivism: A Personal Story of Impact

This month the CoachActivism update takes a personal lens. We are honoured that Maeve O’Byrne, committee member for the CoachActivism project, agreed share her story with us. Maeve’s insights are uplifting and serve as a poignant reminder of the connection coaching has to deep humanitarian work.

  • What drew you into the CoachActivism project? Why participate?

I grew up in the Middle East, and members of my family continue to live there, on and off, over the years. I was a small child when the 7 day war took place but I remember coming home from boarding school and a young couple were living with my parents – they had been on their honeymoon and were unable to return to Gaza.  They remained friends of the family for years until my father’s death in the eighties, somewhere in the Middle East is a Palestinian woman named Maeve, as they named their only daughter after me!  I spent time in the Lebanon in the 1978 just as the war started in Beyrouth and I still have memories of staying in a war zone.

My family continues its ties with the Middle East, I have a brother currently living in Dubai and another who spent over 10 years in Tehran.  Dear friends of mine are Iraqi, who sponsored refugee families during the Iraq invasion and have done the same for Syrian refugees. I was able to work with them at the beginning of the year.  Too, as an immigrant to Canada I can remember how confusing it was in a new country, how much more difficult it must be for people displaced, and maybe having had to live in a refugee camp between leaving their own country and being accepted into Canada.  I felt it was an important project to be involved in.

  • What is the impact this experience has had on you as coach?

 As a coach this project reminds me to listen with intent, or as Doug Silsbee puts it, further develop my capability to be present with my coachees.  The experience has allowed me to practice being present in the moment, and has really exercised my coaching muscles as the challenges faced by my coachees in this project are very different to those I work with everyday.

  • What has the impact been on others?  

 I hope that the project has provided tools to our coachees that enable them to provide the support their clients need while at the same time provided themselves with deeper self knowledge of their own needs during this time of intense work.

  • Any other highlights or “gems” that you are taking away and want to share?

 I think the project has been a wonderful experience, it has highlighted the extraordinary difference coaching can make in a person’s life.  For me it emphasizes the opportunities for providing coaching as a humanitarian activity and it has also reminded me how lucky we are in Canada.


To read more about the CoachActivism project visit our volunteer page or click here.

A warm gratitude filled thank you to Maeve for sharing her insights with us.