Representatives from several Ponoka community organizations came together on Aug. 11, to discuss the issues facing services groups struggling to find volunteers.
The meeting, spearheaded by Maurice Annmarie and Mazurat with 1st Ponoka Traditional Scouting, was held the Scout Hall.
Others in attendance included Beth Reitz, executive director of the Ponoka Youth Centre, Andrew Jones, manager of Parks, Recreation and Facilities for the Town of Ponoka, Jack Spink representing the Air Cadets, Larry Henkleman from the Lions and Legion president Earl Peavoy, as well as representatives from Mission Thrift Store and Citizens on Patrol.
On the agenda was identifying why volunteerism seems to be dropping off and what can be done about it.
Topics discussed were how to get the younger generation interested and engaged and what forms of advertising might be the most effective.
Peavoy said if they could educate the public on the value of these groups, they could “get a buy-in a whole lot easier.”
When their Friday night suppers were catered by the late Bob Hepp, a beloved community figure and volunteer, the dining was full each week, but as of late people just haven’t been coming out, he said.
Another barrier is people seem to think the Legion is only for members and veterans, he added.
Due to a lack of volunteers and funding, the Ponoka Lions are unable to continue with their community bus program. Users would contribute a donation for the driver’s time to use the bus and it was used by seniors, hockey teams, and other community groups.
Jones noted that since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, user group registered have started to edge back up, but “It will take some time to rebuild after what everyone went through.”
The group agreed to meet again in September.