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Tetra Society volunteers Harry Hardy (left) and Brian Johnson created a folding support tray on Heather’s wheelchair. Home Page - Tetra Society
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Helping other people gives you a sense of fulfillment, and that’s what’s makes you happy. People striving to find happiness only for themselves are doing everything wrong.”

Tetra Vancouver volunteer Jay Drew








Volunteer FAQs

I am interested in volunteering for Tetra, as either a technical volunteer or chapter coordinator, but first I want to know. . .

1. How does the Tetra process work?

The Tetra process is client-driven. Essentially, someone contacts the organization requesting an assistive device to overcome a particular obstacle they are experiencing. Clients – or their family members and health professionals – are directed to complete a Request for Assistance (RFA) form, which is forwarded to the local chapter.

This local chapter coordinator will assign the best-fit volunteer. He or she will then meet the client and consider the appropriate course of action. The volunteer constructs the assistive device and tests it with the client to determine it is safe and helpful.

2. Will I be reimbursed for my costs?

Tetra ensures that volunteers (including chapter coordinators) are reimbursed for all out-of-pocket expenses.

Tetra repays all costs of materials used in a project, and all associated travel expenses. Usually, the main costs incurred by volunteers are for parts involved in a project. Volunteers submit receipts after purchases, but with particularly expensive items we may be able to issue a cheque beforehand or invite suppliers to invoice head office.

The coordinator handles this, submitting a monthly invoice to head office that totals all volunteer expenses.

We also reimburse coordinators for holding monthly meetings with volunteers – we pay room rental costs and for refreshments (including the occasional pizza, in the spirit of volunteer recognition).  And, of course, we reimburse any mileage or telephone expenses that the coordinator incurs.

Note that clients are asked to pay for the materials used in the project, if they are able. They are informed early in the process, before being met by the volunteer, so this isn’t a surprise.

3. If I volunteer, am I covered by insurance?

Yes! All work undertaken by volunteers for Tetra is covered by insurance, negotiated by head office. Tetra volunteers have complete coverage, both for the design and fabrication of assistive devices – and this includes volunteers that are also currently professional engineers.

Any volunteer, or would-be volunteer, is welcome to view copies of our current insurance policy.

4. What happens if I feel my Tetra creation has commercial potential?

Tetra volunteers retain all the rights associated with the designs they produce while volunteering for Tetra. Clearly, the emphasis is on the client receiving an assistive device – but once this has been achieved, the volunteer is free to do what they want with their ideas.

As volunteers retain all intellectual property rights, they are entitled to obtain patents on their work and/or attempt to market versions of their devices – which has been done in the past, although it is quite rare. Most often, volunteers publish their work on the Tetra website and share them with other volunteers, taking great personal satisfaction at seeing their projects duplicated elsewhere.

Volunteers have also opted to donate their intellectual property rights (or a portion therof) to Tetra – an important potential resource source for the organization.

5. What rights do I have as a volunteer?

We don’t pressure volunteers into doing things against their wishes, and always encourage them to decline/abandon projects they don’t have a good feel for, for whatever reason.

If a client is abusive, the volunteer should refuse to have contact with him/her. Head office will then inform the client that we cannot work with them.

And if a volunteer feels they are being asked to do something beyond their capabilities, they should not attempt it. If a more suitable volunteer is not available, the project could be declined – or, more commonly, the resources of the wider Tetra organization are utilized to supplement the local volunteer.

Furthermore, volunteers should not attempt a project they feel is inherently unsafe or unsuitable, or that otherwise raises ethical objections.

6. Do I need a police background check?

Yes. Every volunteer and coordinator must complete a police criminal record check. This is a moral responsibility as we work with vulnerable clients, but in addition it is written into our insurance – it all falls under the issue of due diligence.

We reimburse the costs associated with obtaining a police criminal record check  – usually around $10 when it relates to a non-profit position, although some forces do this for free.