Keith Hodgson is no stranger to volunteerism, having spent some 50 years giving his time to various organizations and committees in the community.
Growing up, Mr. Hodgson says his father was a big role model for volunteerism, always active in the community, and he got his own start young through the Cubs and Scouts.
“The value you get out of volunteering is what you are willing to put in,” he tells the Mail. “The more you put in, the more you get back.”
For the last 35 years, Mr. Hodgson has been a volunteer with Kin Canada, serving in Vegreville, Calgary, and Drumheller; he currently serves as president of the local Kinsmen Club of Drumheller and is a lifetime member for his years of service, and the skills he has gained during this time have been invaluable.
Although he moved away from the Drumheller Valley for many years, Mr. Hodgson kept familial connections and moved back to the valley following his retirement.
Upon moving back, Mr. Hodgson joined the Drumheller and Rosedale fire departments, something he always wanted to do but was unable to due to his work life. In many communities, firefighting is a full-time career and not volunteer-based; being retired meant Mr. Hodgson was often available to attend fire calls when younger department members were out of town or otherwise unavailable due to work.
It also offered him the opportunity to reconnect and get re-acquainted with the community he had been away from for so long.
“The comradery you build on the fire department is just like family,” he says.
For the last three years, Mr. Hodgson has helped Santa with the annual Rosedale tour at Christmas. He and his wife have also helped Santa and Mrs. Claus visit the Alberta Children’s Hospital and adults with disabilities in Bragg Creek through the Easter Seals, and he says this has been a highlight of his volunteerism and a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas.
Most recently, Mr. Hodgson joined the flood mitigation’s Community Advisory Committee (CAC). He initially got involved as he did not want to “sit back and complain” about ongoing flood mitigation work in the valley, and he felt he had the appropriate skills to help contribute to the committee.
In 1997, Mr. Hodgson was one of 500 volunteers with the Kinsmen to help with flood clean-up following the Red River flood in Manitoba. This offered first-hand experience about the devastation communities without flood protection face, as well as first-hand knowledge about flooding he has been able to bring to the committee.
While he recognizes the importance of the work skills of the various people involved in the flood mitigation project, he says many of those involved do not live in the community and are not directly affected by the project. By joining the CAC he felt this would help “bridge the gap” between the flood mitigation project and the community.
Although the role of the CAC is different from what was initially anticipated, and there have been some challenges getting the community engaged, he feels they are “making a difference” and getting “the little voices heard” by those involved in the project.
“For people who haven’t volunteered before, don’t worry about how big or small it is, it’s still worth it and you’ll be a better person for it,” he says.
Mr. Hodgson says volunteering offers benefits to not only the community but for personal and professional growth. He encourages anyone interested in volunteering to get involved in whatever capacity they are able.