The things they do - Shawn Loughlin editorial
We like to think we do a lot here at The Citizen to recognize the people who, quietly and behind the scenes, keep our communities running smoothly.
Annually, we hand out our Citizen of the Year Awards to volunteers from both the Blyth and Brussels communities and we are a fixture at community events hosted by Lions Clubs, Legions, Optimists, Kinsmen, Legion Ladies Auxiliaries, Women’s Institutes and more.
In this issue specifically, it seems like many volunteers have popped their heads up, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure their communities remain a good place to live, work and play, even if the fanfare was a bit on the low side, compared to a well-attended, in-person event.
We have a picture of John Stewart in Blyth, who, along with a handful of others, has truly worked to make Blyth a better place through the Blyth Lions Club. He was hand-painting the club’s playground set at the Blyth Lions Park, one of the village’s meeting places.
Volunteers like Stewart have been quietly going about their business as this pandemic has worn on, doing little things here and there to bridge fundraising gaps, keep the improvements coming and ensure that, even if there is a pandemic, that the community doesn’t suffer from neglect during that time.
It hasn’t been easy during that time. Many, including myself, have taken steps back during this time to ensure the safety of people at home but other volunteers have understood, asking people only to help to the extent to which they are comfortable. But others have stepped up to the plate and taken on the lion’s share of jobs while the “many hands make light work” strategy has been a bit tougher to string together.
Also in this issue, we have Patrick Armstrong and Dave Matheson from the Dave Mounsey Memorial Fund, who walked from London to Wingham in under 24 hours to raise money for the charity, which, like so many others, has had to cancel many of its events of the past year and a half.
While these guys did the heavy lifting, walking through the night a distance of over 100 kilometres, many greeted them along the way. Whether it was local firefighters or politicians, or firefighter associations making donations to the cause, they were greeted warmly in many communities along the way.
No one told them they had to attempt this crazy feat (in fact, it was their own idea), and the pay was non-existent, but they did it for the good of the Dave Mounsey Memorial Fund, and raised almost $20,000 as a result.
Elsewhere, local Legions, service clubs and regular citizens have been stepping up during the pandemic, checking in on those who need help and giving them what they need. Most of this work has likely been done quietly, without cheque presentation pictures in The Citizen or big fanfare. These people have just been working to do the right thing because it’s in their DNA; making the world around them a better place is just something they do.
So, thank you to the volunteers who have been out working during this time as the rest of us have taken a step back. Your work has served us in ways we’ll never fully comprehend and, during this pandemic, we should be especially appreciative of all you’ve done to get us through this difficult period.
In small towns everywhere, it’s said that volunteers are the lifeblood of the community. We need to remember that when those clubs are back hosting events. We need to support them then as they supported us now.