House of cards
Where have all the volunteers gone?
Volunteer programs and communityrun events are dropping like flies in the County and they all have one common denominator- a lack of volunteers. Three big announcements recently speak to a disturbing trend in community and volunteer-based programs.
First was the Wellington Rec Committee disbanding and, unfortunately, since that announcement no one has stepped forward to express an interest in starting a new committee. Events in Wellington like the Santa Claus parade and the Canada Day celebrations are what’s at risk with the absence of a local Rec Committee. For WDBA president Evan Nash, it’s about finding new ways for people to volunteer their time.
“We need to find a new way to engage people to volunteer in the County. Otherwise, these events won’t be around in the future for families to enjoy. Someone from our community needs to step up and take the lead on a new direction,” says Nash
Second was the announcement that for the first time in 35 years, there will be no Santa Claus parade in the village of Consecon. Bill McMahon has been the driving force behind the Consecon parade for years, and his reasons echo what was heard from the Wellington Rec Committee.
“I just couldn’t do it all myself anymore. There are less and less volunteers every year. Last year we only had one band participate, and age is a big factor in that. The whole risk-management side of events has also become a major issue. For example, this year if we had a parade we would not have been able to throw candy from the floats because we may injure someone,” said McMahon
Another hassle from the risk-management side came when they discussed having horses in the parade. Horses would have to be insured independently to participate, and if the parade were to have horses, parade organizers would need to submit a plan beforehand that must include six emergency exits for horses along the parade route.
McMahon lamented the fact that his grassroots parade wouldn’t be around this year. He is proud of the fact that participants in the Consecon parade had mostly homemade floats and that their parade spoke more to the everyday County resident.
The third announcement was that after 10 years, Pam McRae is stepping down as the president of the Prince Edward County Soccer Association (PECSA). This soccer program hosts between 650-900 kids every season and in recent years the number has gone as high as 1,100 participants. McRae is stepping down for the same reasons as the previous two announcements. Lack of volunteers to help with facilitating and coordinating a soccer season, and a steady disintegration of the infrastructure that helped Pam make the season happen every year.
“If every parent could donate two to five hours throughout the entire season, we wouldn’t have this problem. There are ways you can help by just arriving early for games and helping with setup,” says McRae.
If no one steps up to lead as president of PECSA, the program will be in serious jeopardy. McRae adds that she would never leave the association in the lurch and will be always there to lend a hand, but like similar situations in the County, it has become too much of a commitment for one person to take on, and no one is stepping up to help. Events like the Santa Claus parade in Consecon and activities like taking your kids to soccer every Wednesday in the summer are important social events. They keep us grounded to our community. We celebrate holidays and convene weekly with our neighbours over soccer or baseball or hockey. If events in the County have gotten too large for what we can safely execute, then an evaluation on how to continue must be done. But with no one even interested in taking over the evaluation process, how will these events continue? How long can we rely on the old guard before the new guard steps up and takes over? The message is loud and clear for anyone listening: If you live in the County for any part of the year, you need to do your part and volunteer somewhere.
The Wellington District Business Association will be hosting a volunteer drive to help raise awareness and network individuals and organizations together. If you are interested in getting involved with community events but not sure where to start this is a great way to meet people and learn more. The social evening will take place on Tuesday, December 12 from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Courage in Wellington. It is a chance to step up to help out within the community while attaining all the rewarding benefits of volunteering.