Volunteers are an integral part of any community, and on April 7 at the Ponoka Jubilee Library, volunteers and dignitaries took a step away from their busy schedules to celebrate the spirit of Ponoka’s volunteers.
FCSS program co-ordinator Kerry Robideau presented a series of posters depicting volunteers from around town in their roles. The posters were put on display and handed out around town, starting the afternoon of the celebration. “I just wanted to thank our volunteers,” Robideau said.
In the posters are volunteers from the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre, the Ponoka Youth Centre, Klaglahachie Fine Arts Society and volunteers from the tax clinic. However, this is just a small fraction of the volunteers that operate in Ponoka.
Other areas volunteers lend their time and efforts for include organization boards and committees, theatre productions, sports teams and events, festivals, seniors’ care and housing establishments, schools, and youth volunteers.
There are over 1,600 volunteers who devote their time to the community and 14 million across the country. “The volunteers, you guys, make the community a much better place as the government keeps downloading things to the municipalities,” said Rick Bonnett, mayor.
“Thank you guys for the job that you do,” he added.
Janice Mackie, volunteer co-ordinator for the Centennial Centre, said if, for last year, the volunteers of the centre had been given minimum wage, their hours would have added up to $178,000. “That’s pretty awesome if you look at it like that.”
Organizations and programs such as the Ponoka Youth Centre and Big Brothers Big Sisters are able to operate on shoestring budgets because of the work done by volunteers. “We couldn’t exist. Honestly, not any of our programs would exist without volunteers,” said executive director Beth Reitz.
“Our community is a lot richer because of the volunteers. It keeps people connected and our volunteers share such great wealth, as well as inspiration for our youth,” said Mackie.
“Without these people what would happen?” she asked.