Congratulations and well done!

There’s something to be said for folks who don’t waste time pointing fingers, finding villains and assigning blame for the various ills of the world. Instead, they simply roll up their sleeves and do things to help make things better in their neighbourhoods, communities or beyond.
Sometimes all of the above.
We’ll call these folks volunteers, for lack of a better term. Anyone even slightly familiar with how a community works knows that life would be pretty bleak without them. The women’s shelter that operates in Slave Lake? Done for without volunteers. Same goes for Victim Services, the homeless shelter program, most of the programs run by the Friendship Centre and a lot run by the town. The list goes on.
How about all the cultural stuff? And yes, this includes sporting events and organizations, as well as the arts council and the group that brings concerts to the Legacy Centre.
How about the 4-H clubs that provide such valuable experiences for kids? How about every religious organization and all the good they do in any community? Dead in the water without volunteers. Curling clubs, golfing clubs, organizations that put on summer and winter festivals, that stage drama productions, that organize community clean-ups.
We’re trying to list things and of course that always results in leaving out more than are included. But it’s just to give some idea of the scope of what’s going on out there, repeated in community after community.
National Volunteer Week is an attempt by government to recognize the importance of such community-building efforts. In Slave Lake, the Friendship Centre and the Town team up during this week every year to put on a banquet, inviting organizations to use it as a way of thanking and recognizing the people who make it all work. The Leader has pitched in for the past 35 years or so, helping to sponsor the Citizen of the Year and Lifetime Volunteer Awards. It’s been an honour to do that, and it has grown into something fairly prestigious.
So… congratulations to Ellen Criss and Sharon Watchel. They’ve both been going about their business of making the community they live and work in a better place for others for quite some time. Either one could have been chosen for either of these awards.

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