May 25th, 2024

Volunteers show the city cares

By Lethbridge Herald on April 19, 2024.

Al Beeber
Managing Editor

How important are volunteers to a community?

In Lethbridge, more than half of residents do volunteer work and the average is 90 hours per year, contributing $135 million annually to the local economy.

That information comes from Amanda Jensen, executive director of Volunteer Lethbridge who spoke to The Herald’s Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Monday before the flag-raising at City Hall to kick off Volunteer Week here.

Those are impressive statistics, and show how much value volunteerism has to the community. 

During the mayor’s State of the City address earlier this year, Jensen also brought up the importance of the volunteer sector during a question-and-answer session to bring to the attention of civic governance and the audience that in Lethbridge volunteers play a crucial role.

And that role has been highlighted here this week with a couple of stories contributed by Gayle Low on individuals who help out in various ways in the city. These are just a few of the thousands of people who donate their time and energies in so many ways to assist with others in the community.

Whether it’s serving on school councils or dishing out meals at the soup kitchen or helping out with charity runs or the dragonboat festival or with a myriad of other organizations and events, Lethbridge residents always step up to the plate when their help is needed.

That speaks volumes about the community in which we live, it speaks to how selfless and caring people are, a story we don’t often hear and which needs to be in the spotlight more often.

Lethbridge cares. Those words which should perhaps become part of our mantra here. Those words accurately reflect the community in which we live and we need to promote those words to counter the negative narrative that we so often read on social media. 

Lethbridge cares – words which perhaps should be on the websites of non-profit organizations and government agencies because those words reflect who Lethbridge residents are, a community which cares about each other.

Lethbridge cares. 

The volunteers who right now as you read this are helping out in this community – perhaps the hospital, or a seniors lodge, or at an elementary school – care deeply about this community.

On a regular basis, volunteers work long shifts at the casino off Crowsnest Trail to help out a cause raising funds. I’ll be doing a shift of my own on April 26 working from 11 until dawn in support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation because like so many others here, I believe I have to do my part, as well. And I don’t often have time – yet – but as retirement, or more likely semi-retirement, approaches I want to become more engaged in the community and contribute back to a city that has given me a good life. A city which has many positives that don’t often get recognized and the role of volunteers is one of those immense positives.

While we certainly have many social issues – which all media report upon – there are good news stories as well and the impact of volunteerism is one of them. 

Take a look at the Brier and the other major curling events that have been staged here as examples – those events took many hundreds of volunteer hours to achieve success.

Kids hockey, ringette, and baseball leagues, swimming and figure skating clubs and every other amateur sport that operates here, require volunteers.

 The arts community as well relies upon volunteers to stage the events that entertain and enlighten us.

Volunteers are involved in every aspect of Lethbridge life and this week we salute all of them. 

Lethbridge cares – and our volunteers prove that every single day.

CONDOLENCES: This week the Lethbridge Fire and EMS department as well as friends and family paid tribute to Aaron Brooks who died recently at the age of 42. I know well members of Aaron’s mom’s family – his uncle Dave has been a long-time friend since I first met him at The Herald – and I enjoyed socializing with his dad when I got around to actually hitting the gym.

Over the years, I’ve come to know his work family, as well, the dedicated men and women who selflessly serve our community. I see members of that fraternity regularly on the job and often off at dog parks and elsewhere. 

Like Aaron’s own family, they’re wonderful people and my heart goes out to all of them as they mourn his passing.

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