Meet Abby Schnurr Mongkonrob, winner of our Volunteer of the Year, Survivor / Thriver Category!
Abby is someone who is always willing to help out with anything and everything we need, from being an amazing photographer at our 2017 5K Run, Walk or Roll to co-curating our Expressive Art Show for the past two years. When she’s in the office or at a program, you know she’ll lifting the spirits in the room by cracking jokes or offering an empathetic ear to anyone who could use it.
Congrats Abby – it’s volunteers like you who help make BIST strong!
16 things you don’t know about me in 16 words or less: I’m a teacher, TV actor, digital music producer, artist, photographer, graphic designer – the list goes on!
I was brought up with good family values: treat everyone equally, respectfully and kindly. I instilled these things in my students as a teacher and this is what I act now as a TBI Survivor and volunteer.
The reason I began volunteering for BIST was: the group of ladies [on staff at BIST] gave me hope. Hope and meaning like I mattered. I didn’t quite understand my TBI for the longest time. Being around others around who shared the same experience urged me to help them while I was also unexpectedly helping myself in the process.
I found support with BIST but also enjoyed engaging with other survivors through their outings and activities, especially the creative arts which I guess is the teacher side of me coming out. My old self resurfaces once in a while when I am with BIST and that is a good feeling.
If I could pick any job in the world, I would be: A well-known actor, but not famous. Just well-known. I don’t like the spotlight on me, I like to choose when to be in the spotlight. Also music producing is something I’d like to get in to.
I have an (irrational or otherwise) fear of: not being in control. Being alone. Death, I think about it every day. Not being able to control my suicidal ideations, which are part of my TBI linked with mental health struggles.
I don’t like snakes but I really like spiders.
My greatest assets as a volunteer are: I’ve been told I’m funny and quirky. Effective communication with other TBI survivors, patient, friendly and helpful. I feel the need to help to take care of them, it’s the teacher in me.
My friends would describe me as: Quirky, a big kid, funny, kind and unpredictable.
If I could invent a super power, it would be: to record our dreams and watch them on TV. Maybe they already have that. LOL. But it’s pretty cool anyways. You can learn a lot about yourself in your subconscious existence.
What inspires me most about BIST is: taking part in the events and feeling appreciated and needed.
If I won $1 million dollars I would: keep it for myself! Give some money to my family, because my parents are always there and so is my sister, no matter what. I would buy my husband and myself a food truck because my husband wants to sell Thai food. I would open a tranquil coffee shop. I would try and help the homeless because I know how to feels to be in poverty.
My personal hero is: any child or adult survivor of an injury, addiction, abuse, mental health, illness or disease that they have conquered or are in the process of conquering.
My celebrity “crush” is: David Tennant, I think he’s brilliant. I also like Chris Pratt and Noami Watts.
My favourite BIST event is: going to the movies! And the yearly art show, this is my second year co-curating.
A quote/motto I try to live by is: treat others as you would like to be treated – Karma!
If I could volunteer anywhere in the world I would: volunteer for Make a Wish Foundation, go to Disney World with the kids.
One time, as a kid, I: had a radio show in my basement with friends and cassette tapes, the good old days. I won a spot on a 107.9 morning show with Anwar Night and Larry Silver when I was in grade six. Anwar Night was cute, he’s a weather guy now.
I am most proud of: my husband, for moving all the way from Thailand to support me and take care of me.
My favourite BIST moment from this past year is: when Spider Man came to High Park on picinic day – I felt like a big kid!