Gateway Gazette

John Barlow, MP: Volunteers are Invaluable to Foothills Communities

Foothills, AB – Our communities are built through the hard work, passion and commitment of some incredibly special volunteers, and some of these people we simply know are impossible to replace.

Over the past year we have lost some exceptional people and now it falls to all of us to step up and try to do what seems to be the impossible. However, we must try.

Last month we celebrated Volunteer Week and we honoured those incredible community members who give selflessly sacrificing time with family to ensure our communities have the amenities needed to be successful.

Volunteer Week is an opportunity for all of us to shine a light on those who are often unsung heroes. They are the builders who make things happen in our rural towns and villages from organizing minor sports programs, erecting community parks and delivering meals to those in need. These are folks who belong to our service clubs, Legions and community associations or who don’t belong to an organized club but are dedicated volunteers who are driven by the desire to make their community better.

These are the wonderful people who refuse to believe it cannot be done; the volunteers who always have another hour in the day; the neighbours who always find the money, the labour, the materials and the energy to see a project through to completion.

At times it feels as though we cannot do without these amazing people. Over the past several months, communities across southern Alberta have felt the loss of some of our most beloved.

I know it hit me hard as I lost some of the people I look up to the most, those I considered my mentors and role models not only in political life, but certainly as dedicated volunteers who loved their communities.

People like Eldon Couey, Ron McLean and Mary Gillard. Incredible community builders like Laurie Wedderburn, Scott Forbes, Oliver Perry, Gordon Day, Bill Love and Bob Westrop.

I cannot name all the incredible people, but this is a snippet of the community icons we have lost over the past several months and only begins to highlight the cherished people who have left us.

Now, in the immortal words of John McRae, “To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.”

This is one of my favourite quotes and it clearly outlines the task before us. All of us must step up and accept the challenge of carrying on the amazing legacy of those who came before us; it is up to us to build on the work they have begun to ensure our communities are strong and thriving.

This is a challenge, but I am confident it is a challenge we can take on. I am confident because of the phenomenal people I have met in our communities across southern Alberta. It is because of the fantastic young leaders I have seen stepping up into key roles across the Foothills I know we are in good hands.

To the wonderful volunteers who have helped build our communities and the next generation of volunteers giving of themselves I say thank you.

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