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Volunteers help make Cochrane great place that it is

Spring and summer in Cochrane bring opportunities for citizens to pursue their interests and explore their potential.

Spring and summer in Cochrane bring opportunities for citizens to pursue their interests and explore their potential.

People of all ages who call Cochrane home, work here, or visit can find things to do to exercise their minds, bodies, skills and talents. These include charitable events, sporting events, walks and runs, art shows, musical or theatrical performances, trade fairs, parades, ideas to share, and environmental activities in which to participate and take action, and so much more.

What is so spectacular about all this activity, is that for every event, there are leaders and volunteers who organize and provide these opportunities for the rest of us to attain various personal and collective goals. Those leaders and volunteers represent one of Cochrane’s greatest assets-our social capital of immeasurable value that cannot be calculated in dollars and cents.

As we transition back into the slower pace of fall, as summer holidays come to a close, and kids head back to school, we need to recognize the volunteers who make these opportunities possible.

The social networks that we develop through the activities and events we pursue with our family members help to shape our values and belief systems. By communicating with people on a daily basis, we share our ideas and listen and learn about the things important to others. Shared knowledge that we co-generate and our shared values help us make good choices when we are asked to vote and make decisions about how we want our community to evolve. In many cases, it is the events in which children are enrolled that help adults form lasting ties with other citizens in this community.

For example, through soccer, hockey, sporting and charitable activities, music, and theatrical events that my children took part in, I learned to appreciate the ideas and values of a whole group of people with whom I had not previously interacted.

Times spent chatting at hot dog sales in elementary school, volunteering at tree plants, charities and celebrations like the Terry Fox Run and Canada Day, playacting with the Vision Players Theatre, trying to play a trombone with the Cochrane Music Society, working on 50-50 draws at hockey games, being a band mom, a soccer mom, a hockey mom taught me about the people who live here and what is important for families.

Even when my children grew up and left home, I have kept up many of those relationships that formed during those volunteer events. I learned that volunteerism, sharing, and caring about others is what this community is all about. For every hour I spent as a volunteer, I have enjoyed many hours being entertained or helped by others as I strived to achieve my personal goals. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to raise well-informed and dedicated citizens.

There is a lot to do in Cochrane, for everyone. If you think of an idea for a project or program, someone will help you get it organized, volunteers will rally to bring the event to pass, and people will come out, participate, and help celebrate. The only thing stopping us from achieving our potential is our imagination and drive.

The 7th Pathway to Sustainability in the Cochrane Sustainability Plan is that “everyone has an opportunity to pursue their potential in Cochrane.” As a citizen body, we are well on the way to reaching our targets and achieving our goals in this regard.

Take time to thank the coaches, teachers, event organizers, volunteers and fellow citizens with whom you and your family and friends pursue dreams right here in this community. You will be surprised by how many people thank you right back, because if you live here and participate in these events and celebrate together you are making Cochrane a richer, more sustainable community.

Sustainability Partners Uniting Resources, SPUR, just released their 2011 progress report demonstrating how we are doing as a community toward achieving the targets in the Cochrane Sustainability Plan. You can find the progress report on their website at www.cochranesustainability.ca.