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Rejuvinate volunteer spirit

Posted on August 19, 2014 by Sunny South News

This past summer, Lethbridge County was jam-packed with community activities and involvement from its citizens. From parades, fairs, rodeos and other family-friendly fare, Lethbridge County knows how to party… and so does the rest of southern Alberta.

Miners Days in Coalhurst, Heritage Day in Nobleford, Jamboree and Harvest Days in Picture Butte and Lethbridge County celebrated 50 years in July. This week, Cornfest in Taber and Whoop-Up Days in Lethbridge is underway, with fun for everyone. But… none of these events would be possible without the endless support of community members who volunteer their time and resources to make these events the best they can be.

First off, a thank you goes out to all the hard work and determination these volunteers offer, so families throughout Lethbridge County and southern Alberta can enjoy a great summer.

Sadly though, it seems at some events, community members forgot about the event or didn’t want to take part in the festivities — when it came to putting in time as a parade participant or part of the other activities.

Case in point — the Miners Days parade. Hats off to its organizers and for all who took part in the parade and to all the residents and visitors who came out to enjoy a great small town parade. But… the parade only lasted approximately 22 minutes. Everyone standing on the sidewalks kept waiting to see if there was more parade coming… there wasn’t, that was it folks.

What happened? Yes, Coalhurst is a small community, but come on folks. Community involvement is good for the community, plain and simple. Visitors came from out of town to take part in what was supposed to be a community activity. What happened to the participants? There were hardly any Coalhurst participants. Kids could have rode on bikes, groups and organizations could have put a float in just to say hi and schools or sports teams could have put in a team or any number of floats to be involved. Lethbridge County had a float, the Town of Coaldale had a float and even Taber’s Cornfest organizers had a float. Is the trouble lack of interest? If so, it’s a shame, because that means these summer parades and events may begin to fade out of existence, if people don’t step up to take on the task of keeping community spirit alive.

New blood is needed in communities, when it comes to volunteerism. Volunteers are burning out quickly from over-volunteer-asitis. It’s a real thing. Many volunteers have volunteered for years and it’s time for a changing of the guard, so to speak.

The saying should be, “It takes a village… to raise a village” or at the very least, to keep it afloat and vibrant, so everyone can prosper living in the community and for those visiting — visitors can take home a sense of community spirit and pride, wanting to return to said community.

In today’s society, we don’t have a lot of extra time to volunteer — it’s a fact. We work, raise our families and want to enjoy time off. Guilty… as charged. Perhaps the answer is realizing how much fun a summer event in a small community is, or a child’s sports team keeps a child fit and teaches a skill, or a bake sale fundraiser raises money for a special project or important charity dear to the heart. Once realized, maybe there’s something regular old Joe or Sally can do to help out, even if only for a few hours or by decorating a float, coaching one night of soccer or baking some cookies with the kids.

To be a volunteer in a community is to give back to the community. It’s cyclical and what comes around goes around. Volunteering as a participant in a parade or at an event may keep the parade or event going for another few years. Volunteering for a day a year may help someone who has volunteered for the past 10 years from burning out and losing a sense of community spirit.

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