The fine taste of caring

To the organizers of the Red Deer Food Bank Mac and Cheese Luncheon, and the hundreds of local citizens who shared a meal and their money to help one of this community’s most fundamental causes.

Bouquet…

To the organizers of the Red Deer Food Bank Mac and Cheese Luncheon, and the hundreds of local citizens who shared a meal and their money to help one of this community’s most fundamental causes.

The food bank’s services are much in demand — that’s the natural fallout of a sputtering economy. As the demand for food grows (a client increase of 75 per cent over last year), so does the need for community support of the food bank. But when part of the ongoing donations must serve the food bank’s mortgage, it’s more difficult to provide fundamental services.

In many communities, that kind of stressor could crush a charitable organization.

But not in Red Deer.

A group of local philanthropists, led by Ray McBeth, seized the idea of providing simple lunch fare and extraordinary speakers and turned it into a remarkable event. The intent was to raise enough money ($60,000) to pay off the mortgage.

Beyond the messages of humanity and heroism delivered by speakers Gen. Rick Hillier and Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, was an even more resounding message that Red Deer cares deeply: $105,000 was raised at the event on Monday, and the extra $45,000 will go to stock the food bank’s shelves.

The event did more than support a charitable cause: it raised awareness about need in the community; it shone a spotlight on the selfless service of the military in Afghanistan and elsewhere; and it gave the business community a chance to show that it remains a vital part of this community, even in trying economic times.

Bouquet…

To city council, for doing its best to minimize pet problems in Red Deer by toughening up the dog control bylaw while pushing ahead with a new off-leash dog park.

Certainly not everyone in Red Deer is a pet owner, but we can all be affected if dogs and cats are allowed to roam free.

Providing clear standards for dog owners, through a thorough licensing and control bylaw and another comfortable place to run dogs, should give us all a greater sense of comfort.

No doubt there will remain pet owners who are either too lazy or too inconsiderate to follow the letter of the law or use the off-leash parks (at Three Mile Bend, and the newly approved one at the old landfill east of Westerner Park, to be known as The Oxbow). But now animal control officers have the tools necessary to deal with problem pets (and problem owners).

Success, of course, depends on compliance and the ability of control staff to respond to complaints. But the new bylaw and off-leash park take us a step closer.

Pet ownership is a big responsibility. In Red Deer, there should be no excuses for ignoring that responsibility. And if you do, the consequences are now clear and suitably harsh.

Now if we could just get cat owners to understand their responsibilities.

Bouquet…

To the Red Hat Awards winners, for understanding the recipe for customer service.

The winners of the annual awards were announced this week at a gala ceremony. Business of the year Babycakes Cupcakery and the 11 individual winners understand that treating customers with care, warmth, respect and patience will bring those consumers back again and again.

The awards, sponsored by Tourism Red Deer, honour achievement in the hospitality and tourism industry. They help encourage the kind of environment that is the essence of a vital, profitably hospitality industry.

And they also set a standard that should be duplicated in every corner of customer service, from retail workers to public servants.

John Stewart is the Advocate’s managing editor.

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