Andy Walker- Guest Opinion

It has been said so often it has become cliché, but that doesn’t change the fact the social life of this province would be greatly diminished if not for the efforts of thousands of volunteers.

Whether it is organizing festivals, coaching sports teams or putting in countless hours for charities, (just to name a few) the bill would be in the millions if the total was added up. Instead, these volunteers seek nothing but to make their community and province a better place to live. It is happening every day in every community from tip to tip. Islanders have long been known as among the most generous Canadians, freely giving both their money and time to help others.

Their contributions go beyond helping to organizing things for the rest of us to do in our “spare” time. They enrich the economic life of a community and (in the case of firemen and Red Cross among others) help to protect our lives and property. All too often, they receive criticism instead of thanks.

Volunteers deserve a pat on the back and that is why more and more organizations are opting to honour a volunteer of the year. We all know somebody who is deserving of an award like this. He/she will usually take on any task asked of them and do it well, all the while leaving the rest of us wondering where they find the time. There’s a reason why they say “If you want something done, give it to a busy person” - because it’s true.

Hockey PEI is one of those organizations and its 2019 award goes to Carolyn MacPhee of Souris. I don’t know her personally but I would be willing to bet she will be a little embarrassed reading this. Most volunteers that I have met during my years as a reporter are usually shy when the spotlight is shone on them. They will tell you others deserve the honour more. As Carolyn said in a story in this week’s paper “You feel very humbled. Yes, you’ve put in a lot of time, but you always feel there is someone more deserving than you.”

The story points out another characteristic of dedicated volunteers-- the desire to improve things for the better. I especially like her philosophy “If you want to be part of the change you have to come to the table.” That advice was given to her by her father and that tends to be another characteristic of volunteers of the year-- they are carrying on a family legacy of improving their communities.

It takes little effort to criticize but it doesn’t usually accomplish much either. Instead we should try to give volunteers like Carolyn a well deserved pat on the back.

Better yet, why not become a volunteer yourself if you are not already. There is no shortage of opportunities and your rewards will be many. Not a bigger bank account to be sure but the satisfaction of a job well done and knowing you have made a difference in somebody’s life or in your community.

Those are things you can’t put a price on because they’re priceless.

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