Volunteers Make A Difference

In the Town of Coaldale volunteers are key and we welcome the opportunity during this, National Volunteer Week, to acknowledge and applaud everyone in the community who gives of their time.

Whether it’s a fundraising project for a playground build, support for a community initiative or ensuring the success of a community-based program, volunteers are the key component in any successful venture.

“I view the role of volunteers in the town of Coaldale as vitally important,” says Mayor Kim Craig.

Volunteers make it possible for Coaldale to enjoy a variety of amenities, he adds. Spray parks, play grounds, a museum and sports fields, and even essential services such as the fire department are all made possible without the use of tax dollars because volunteers are willing to give of their time.

“Coaldale is a great place to live, work and play, in large part, because of the hardworking volunteers, service and community groups that give so generously of their time, talents, energy and money,” notes Craig.

On a personal level the Mayor said volunteerism has greatly enriched his own life.

“I have been able to volunteer, alongside many altruistic people over the years, making lifelong friendships and have been able to see tangible results from the efforts put forward by volunteers.”

Melanie Patenaude, coordinator with the County of Lethbridge Literacy Program says all of the tutors who work with the program are volunteer.

“Our program couldn’t exist without the donation of time and talent by our volunteers.”

She currently has 12 volunteers providing tutoring to participants in the Literacy Program but could use a few more volunteers. There are five people on a waiting list hoping to be matched up with tutors.

The Literacy Program along with the County of Lethbridge Community Learning Council host a volunteer appreciation event twice a year to recognized the efforts of volunteers in both their programs.

Lou Visser, learning council coordinator, says volunteers sit on the council and even provide some classes and info sessions on a volunteer basis. The council could not exist without volunteers and relies on them across the region in several communities.

“We have a wonderful group of volunteers.”

Anyone who can volunteer some time as a literacy tutor is asked to contact Patenaude by email at literacy@communityclasses.ca or call 403-345-3160. Go to www.communityclasses.ca for more information about the program.

In Coaldale community events are made possible by volunteers who are willing to plan, prepare and host events.

The recent Canadian Masters Curling Championship required upwards of 90 volunteers to host the week-long national event.

“They are the backbone, they’re absolutely critical to the success of the event,” says Larry Taylor, co-chair of the championship.

He adds, it doesn’t matter if the job is big or small, what matters is how well it is done and that’s where the volunteers who worked the championship excelled. Everyone did their job and did it well.

“Without the volunteers, and even more so their willingness to do whatever they’re assigned, we wouldn’t have a successful event.”

“That’s what made it a success.”

While some volunteers put in a few hours over the week’s schedule, other put in many hours each day of the championship.

“It was all volunteers.”

Eliah Farrell, who chaired February’s Community Fest in Coaldale, said the role of volunteers to the event is essential and makes the community richer.

“They keep a lot of wonderful things in our community going.”

Like all the community service groups, club and organizations operating in Coaldale, the local Kinsmen rely sole on volunteers to make their organization, projects and events possible.

“Without volunteers there would be no Kinsmen,” says Jack Van Rijn of the Coaldale Kinsmen.

He notes as a national organization the Kinsmen would not exist without volunteers. The Kinsmen motto, Serving the community’s greatest need was altered by the local members to include an “s” on the end of need to reflect the fact that Coaldale has many needs.

Over the years the Kinsmen have contributed $1.4 million in projects to the community. In operation since 1950, the organization is the oldest active service club in Coaldale.

The next major event on the horizon for the group is the fifth annual Carnage in Coaldale Demolition Derby. The June 7 event is in need of volunteers. Last year 105 volunteers helped to plan and present the Derby.

“We’ll be looking for that many again,” says Van Rijn.

Each year 100 per cent of the proceeds go back to community-based projects. Last year $21,000 was raised and stayed in the community to support the Kinship Park. This year the proceeds are earmarked for an outdoor skating rink/basketball court at the Park. This $100,000 project is the newest element to be added to Kinship Park.

Anyone who can volunteer to help with the derby is asked to email contact@coaldalekinsmen.com or call 403-345-5820. A commitment of six hours is what the Kinsmen are hoping volunteers can commit to and in exchange they will get free entry into the derby, free t-shirt with access to all areas of the event and a food voucher.

Musicians in the region also have an opportunity to volunteer their talents at this year’s Derby. The Kinsmen are looking for entertainers to “plug and play” on the stage during the event.

With the current car count the derby is shaping up to be the largest demolition derby in Western Canada this year. The Kinsmen will do it all over again in August at the Lethbridge Exhibition as the Hot August Weekend Demolition Derby Dust-Up.

The Town of Coaldale also annual recognizes volunteers who assist with Town projects, programs and events. This year’s volunteer appreciation is in the works for the fall.