Paul McLaughlin was relatively new to the area when he got his first taste of volunteerism.
The Ponoka County reeve, who spoke at a volunteer appreciation night dinner held April 7 at Peter Lougheed Community Centre, recalled being called to a hall board meeting several years ago. He attended the meeting, but the only other person in attendance when he arrived had to leave, so he left him with the hall keys.
“That’s how I got on the hall board,” McLaughlin said with a chuckle.
Mayor Rick Pankiw quoted author Erma Bombeck when he summed up the work of volunteers.
“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience and just plain loving one another,” the author said.
“She couldn’t have said it better,” said Pankiw. “It seems in this day and age every organization is stretched to its max. There never seems to be enough hours in a day, days in a week and weeks in a month to meet the ongoing demands of society.”
Volunteers are a critical component to the success of any organization, he added, no matter what it is.
“Even something as simple as giving your neighbor a helping hand, your patience, compassion, kindness and endless giving of yourself, makes the lives of so many people easier.”
Pankiw compared volunteerism to the ultimate exercise in democracy.
“When you volunteer you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”
The price of volunteerism can’t be measured in dollars and cents, he added.
“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because you’re worthless, but because you’re priceless.”
Laine Dahms, chairperson of the volunteer appreciation night committee said she was pleased with the turnout noting the committee had worked hard to put it all together.
“They are a very special group of people. We have sliced and diced and peeled, chopped and shredded,” she said with a laugh.
Lynn Gray from Alberta Health Services was also in attendance at the dinner and Shalaine Hancik accompanied by Dick Hancik and Maurice Paul provided entertainment.
Members of the volunteer appreciation night committee are Mary Busch, Irene Steeves, Laine Dahms, Dan Donald, Cheryl Jones, Anita Goetz, Peggy Makofka, Pat Muddle, Katherine Winters, Nancy Adams, Pam and Bill Scott, Peter Strenstrom, Shirley Winter, Delores Green and Alvin Goetz.