INNISFAIL – Volunteers have always made a difference in a community.
The Town of Innisfail made sure that difference was appreciated as it led the celebration for its local volunteers during National Volunteer Week April 15 to 21.
Instead of hosting one appreciation event with a dinner, as in the past, the town decided to host three different events on three different days. They included bowling on Tuesday, swimming on Thursday and a movie matinée on Saturday.
“This week has been excellent. I’m really pleased with how it’s gone,” said Karen Bradbury, community and social development coordinator. “We had approximately 75 people out for bowling and approximately 80 people out for the swim.
“I’m glad families are coming out and enjoying a movie together too,” she added. “Hopefully they’ll learn about some of the volunteer opportunities available in the community.”
Each event included prizes, a small gift to thank volunteers and information tables on volunteer opportunities with various groups in town.
“At every event we had a host table that provided information on some local volunteer opportunities,” said Bradbury. “Every location has also provided a draw for that event and we have some draws at the end of the week in celebration (of volunteer week).
“Every volunteer received a volunteer appreciation gift. A thank-you card with a $5 Tim Hortons card so they can enjoy a coffee on us,” she added, noting families and individuals of all ages were taking in volunteer week events.
One of those was Leanne Murray, a volunteer with the Innisfail Seniors Drop-In Centre.
“I think it’s a great idea. It’s nice to give back to the people that are giving,” said Murray. “If everybody did just a little bit (and volunteered), it would help a lot.”
Kyleigh Boylan, 14, was also out enjoying the free movie on Saturday. Boylan has volunteered at the Innisfail and District Historical Village.
“I think it’s a great experience for those who can’t afford to go see a movie,” said Boylan. “I would love to see this again next year.”
Bradbury said they’ve received great feedback from the community about the events and may consider the new format next year.
“People really liked the variety and the different opportunities to come out and celebrate,” said Bradbury. “We’re going to look at our events afterwards, review them and determine that for next year.”