Greetings Red Deer, and happy New Year! I, like many of you, cannot believe it is 2023 – to say last year flew by would be an understatement, but what a pleasure and honour it was to spend the year as your Mayor.
I came into this office with a vision of connecting and building our community. I am dedicated to moving Red Deer forward, to building partnerships, relationships, and unity throughout our amazing community, and my hope for 2023 is that we continue this charge.
I am kicking off the year with a challenge, Red Deer. A challenge to look around our community and see where we can make a difference. I would like to declare 2023 as the Year of the Volunteer here in Red Deer and am calling on you to help me make that happen.
There are so many people and groups and agencies out there that need our help. We are encouraged to do and give as much as we can – and that is what we do here in Red Deer. I hope we can all find a few hours to volunteer in a place that needs you, give what you can to the folks that need you, connect with neighbours, friends and family that need you, and at the same time – seek the help you might need from your community. We can build the great city we love, but we must do it together.
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.
Not only does volunteering help our community, but it also has proven benefits to the person doing the volunteering – improving both mental and physical health. Research has shown that volunteering is associated with improved health and well-being, including increased longevity, adoption of healthy lifestyles and reduction in depression and stress.
But where do you start? There are so many organizations in Red Deer that rely on the support of volunteers. Choosing to volunteer for an organization or cause that you feel passionate about can increase the chances that you enjoy the opportunity. Take time to determine what you really care about before beginning a volunteer opportunity. For example, if you’re passionate about disability rights, you may enjoy volunteering at a special needs center. The more specific you get about your passions and interests, the more likely you are to find a volunteer position that is best suited for you.
Here is another example – The Golden Circle is a great place to reach out to if you love working with older adults. They have a wide variety of opportunities, including driving, special events, snow clearing and working in their kitchen. Just visit www.goldencircle.ca for all the details.
So my dream for this year, Red Deer, is to work together to highlight not only the importance volunteers make in our community, but the joy and value it brings to our lives. 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.
Volunteering helps build a more cohesive, safe and strong community. It brings people together and develops lasting relationships time and time again. That is what we need now, more than ever. This is my vision for our community, and I am calling on you to help make it happen.
If you already give your time – thank you! We appreciate you so much, and know you are truly making a difference. If you have been inspired today – please reach out to a local organizations, 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!
Ken Johnston is the mayor of Red Deer.