Skip to content

Johnston: Volunteers help shape a community

Red Deer – it is my pleasure to connect with you once again this month, thanks to the Red Deer Advocate for the opportunity!

Red Deer – it is my pleasure to connect with you once again this month, thanks to the Red Deer Advocate for the opportunity!

What a wonderful time of year - the snow is melting, and spring is just around the corner. Spring means early blooming flowers, buds just beginning to show and fresh growth peeking through the cold, ground ready to start a brand-new year. And if you know me, you know I am excited to bring out those hanging plants and flowers very soon.

Spring means meeting new people and trying new things, discovering yourself and moulding into someone new. Spring means taking the leap and pushing back fears, a time for change and an opportunity for progress. Spring means out with the old and in with the new.

I kicked off this year with a quiet challenge, but now we are ready to make some waves. The challenge was to look around our community and see where we can make a difference. 2023 is officially the Year of the Volunteer here in Red Deer and am calling on you to help me make that happen.

In early April, in celebration of National Volunteer Week for 2023, we will be proclaiming the year as such, and kicking off some initiatives to help Red Deerians connect, engage, and build community.

The National Volunteer Week theme for 2023 is Volunteering Weaves Us Together. This reveals the importance of volunteering to the strength and vibrancy of our communities through the interconnected actions we take to support one another. These diverse forms of sharing our time, talent and energy strengthen the fabric of our community.

Like each individual thread makes weaving stronger, every volunteer’s experience, perspective, and abilities add to our collective resilience. Woven together from coast to coast to coast, volunteering reinforces our ability to grow, thrive, and create change within our community, province, and country.

Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Even helping with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals, and organizations in need. Volunteering is all about you being able to contribute some of your own time to help people in our community.

I see you at the events I attend, the organizations I am so lucky to visit, the people I meet around town. But I also know that volunteerism is on the decline in Canada. In fact, Volunteer Canada said recently that up to 65 per cent of organizations in the country are struggling with a shortage of volunteers, and up to 35 per cent of those that have had to reduce services as a result.

This year, you will see your City Council increasing our participation and engagement with our beloved community organizations, doing what we can to support our community. We will be highlighting organizations, opportunities, benefits and helping to foster and create mutually beneficial relationships.

The last few years have been incredibly hard on us, and in the spirit of getting back to kindness – there is no better way to demonstrate kindness than giving your time to help others. Please reach out to a local organization, talk to friends and family, and find something that will resonate with you, that will bring you joy. Together, we will build our community back!

I would also like to thank everyone who submitted nominations for the Mayor’s Recognition Awards, coming this June. The Mayor’s Recognition Awards honour individuals, groups and teams who have made a special contribution that has brought honour and recognition to Red Deer. These awards are a way of acknowledging and congratulating our citizens for their accomplishments. This awards program gives us the chance to recognize incredible achievements and celebrate our most exceptional citizens – and it is one of my most favorite events of the year as your Mayor.

While nominations have closed for this year, I am very much looking forward to celebrating the amazing people that contribute so much to the fabric of our community.

Ken Johnston is the Mayor of Red Deer.