The McBride Community Services, Recreation and Leisure Fair took place on September7 at the Robson Valley Community Hall, and gave 24 organizations an opportunity to showcase their work, as well as potentially find new volunteers for their worthy programs. It also gave those new to town a great opportunity to learn about what is offered in the community.

McBride, Robson Valley, Robson Valley Support Society, volunteers, volunteering, volunteerism
Kelly Williams, above, from the Robson Valley Support Society fielded questions at the fair.
Photo: Chris Parker

This first time event was organized by Carol Hammar with assistance from the Village Council. Our MLA Shirley Bond spoke briefly at the event, which concluded with several draw prizes. Kevin Chuipka, Allison Moore, Beth Fredericks, and Rebecca Hansen each won baskets of goodies from our ever generous merchants.

September is always the busiest and perhaps the most expensive time of year, as children start school, register for various clubs, sports or activities all of which have two things in common. First there is the expense and then there is the commitment to coach, lead, score keep, or serve in one or more administrative capacities. The parents too, check and search out an outlet for their socialization and mental or physical growth. Ironically studies have shown it is not Christmas that is the most expensive time of year but rather ‘back to school time’ which coincides with the commencement of many of these other activities.

Still in Canada the will and need for volunteerism is profound as it would be impossible to pay for professional help to run all the activities. Just think of the myriad activities just this month in McBride, all run with volunteer help. The truth is the only way each can happen is through the use of volunteers. Statistically the pinnacle of the volunteerism (hours committed and dollars raised) effort in Canada occurred in 1983. However in most of Canada that effort or commitment has declined rapidly each year since and the number of participants active in this pursuit is approximately 25 per cent of the numbers involved in 1983. The funds raised also dropped until it hit a plateau about five years ago and now appears to be reversing the trend. In Kinsmen or Kin Canada as it is now called, for example (one of Canada’s largest service organizations) the dollars raised was about $20 million for several years but this year was slightly over $30 million, all time high levels. This begs the question perhaps, will this trend be followed by an increase in volunteerism activity? Kin Canada in addition to the dollars raised in 500 communities across Canada has raised between $800,000 and $1 million each year for Cystic Fibrosis Research (their premier national goal) for 40 years but this year exceeded $1.2 million, a new high.

McBride, Robson Valley, Robson Valley Support Society, volunteers, volunteering, volunteerism
Pat Elliott and Lori Kimpton manning the Curling table at the fair
Photo: Chris Parker

In McBride, and I suspect many other small towns in Canada, volunteers dig deep each year to continue the long term events such as the Pioneer Weekend and the Harvest Fair just two of many that involve several groups or individuals in town. As times and priorities change, the overall effort continues as we attempt to do more with less. One only has to think of the many activities that have been run as fundraisers towards the new Library and Museum banner or the new community garden over the last year, examples of the new programs put on by volunteers. Hockey, basketball, quilt making, figure skating and many other activities continue, and new activities, like pickle ball are added to the calendar.

As an aside one of the things that occur in this community that particularly make me proud to claim ties here, is the willingness to help families that have had one crisis or another. From refurnishing houses, or rebuilding burned down barns, to paying for medical treatments or travel to those treatments our community is always ready to put on a quick fund raiser.

To all of you that volunteer and participate in the myriad of activities in McBride, and especially those who give so unselfishly to support these activities we tip our hat and say ‘Thank You!’

By Chris Parker