News | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 28 Apr 2017 4pm

Many benefits to volunteerism says McKee


    Volunteerism has all kinds of benefits, from fulfillment to making the community a better place. Sometimes you can even pick up a new skill.
    Howard McKee has been a long time supporter of the Drumheller and District Ag Society.
    “I have been with them for about 36 years,” McKee tells the Mail. “I am treasurer so that takes up a lot of time keeping the books up and paying bills.”
    He has also been a long volunteer with Drumheller Rural Crime Watch also approaching 38 years.
    “It is an organization that is in need,” he says, explaining its main goal is to prevent crime and its main tool to do this is the automated phone tree system. This allows residents throughout the area to act as the eyes and ears of the police.
    “We have a phone out system and if we find that someone is in trouble or if we need the RCMP, it notifies everyone in the area that is a member,” said McKee.
    He explains that right now the phone out system is maintained in Starland County but serves from Stettler and Special Areas, all the way to Wheatland and Newell County.
    His role with Rural Crime Watch is also as treasurer.
    “Once you get the job, you never lose it,” he chuckles, adding that he has gained the skills to be competent in the role out of necessity.
    He says there are many benefits to volunteerism.
    “It is good to get in other people and work with them. Sometimes it is hard work, sometimes it is fellowship,” McKee tells the Mail. “If we all got out here in Drumheller and volunteered in some direction, Drumheller would probably be a better place.”
     He would encourage the next generation of the community to get involved in volunteering. It is a great way to support the community in a meaningful way. It is also a great way to meet people
    “There is fellowship, you are meeting people that you may never meet in another way.  There are a lot of people I say hi to but I never really know them, this way you are associating with people throughout the area,” he said.

Volunteering gives back with valued friendships

20170410 Pioneer Centre Barb Joanne TJH 0009

    From donations, to blankets, to good food boxes and more, this woman has become a multifaceted, irreplaceable volunteer within the Drumheller area.  
    Barb Barker began volunteering shortly after she and her husband Mike arrived from London 15 years ago.
    “Everyone has made us feel so welcome,” said Barker. “It’s good.”
    At the Pioneer Trail Seniors Centre, Barker packs boxes of unsold clothes and sends them to shelters in Calgary via Hi-Way 9 Express trucking services free of charge.
    She also volunteers at the Sunshine Lodge, the Good Food Box program, and the ladies of the Friendship Club in Dalum.
    “I’m able bodied to do it and just thought ‘well it’s a way of meeting people and doing some good,’” said Barker.
    For the Good Food Box program, Barker cleans the baskets that get sent out as well as add fresh items to the boxes as they move down the conveyor belt like line.
    The Good Food Box program has been up and running for only three years but has sustained decent interest in the area.
    At the Sunshine Lodge along the Red Deer River, Barker gives ladies manicures, helps out with barbecues, and waters plants in the early summer.
    As for the Dalum Friendship Club, Barker sews night dresses for the community care wing of the Drumheller hospital.
    Further instilling her humble character, she does not want to be recognized for her efforts in the slightest.
    “No, I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing,” said Barker. “I help people and do some good for them.”

Volunteerism expands worldview


    JoAnn Cunningham says the rewards she receives when doing volunteer work are as varied as the volunteer work she does… and Cunningham keeps busy.
    She has been an active member of Knox United Church for many years and is currently the board chair at the church. This just scratches the surface of her time volunteering.
    Cunningham is also the Chair of the Board of the Citizens Advisory Committee at the Drumheller Institution. This is her second year.
    “The CAC is meant to be a liaison between the community and the penitentiary. We meet monthly and hear what is happening at the penitentiary and we bring learning we have from the community to those meetings,” she explains
    She says right now

fentanyl is a big topic with CAC as well as planning for the 50th anniversary of the Drumheller Institution coming up in September.
    Once a week she also volunteers at Continuing Care.
    “Once a week we have a sing-along with residents,” she explains.
    “At Continuing Care, I like to see the joy on the faces of the people we work with there.”
    She also lends her voice to Pioneer Trail Singers, who often perform at special events such as Remembrance Day, Sunshine Lodge and other community events.
    “Why do I sing in the choir? They are people my age who just have a joy of singing, and we have a wonderful conductor and pianist, so you can’t get any better than that,” she said.
    Volunteerism brings a great reward of friendship.
    “There is a camaraderie with the people you work with, people you volunteer with and other people you encounter,” she said.
 It can also expand your worldview.
   “It makes you see a world broader than the one we live in and I think it is good to see that you can help other people.  I think it is good for my own state of wellbeing to get me out of the house and doing things with other people,” she said.
   “It helps you show empathy for others and appreciate your own station in life because you see people who are far worse off and they are living their life.”

How many hours a week do you volunteer?