The most basic of all values is people helping people and, in the process, helping themselves. In a small community volunteerism is almost the essence of life.
The word volunteer (as a noun) surfaced around 1600 as “one who offers himself for military service.” To volunteer (as a verb) came forth in a non-military sense around the 1630s, while the word ‘volunteering’ is a more recent usage, defined as “community service” and “a person who offers himself for a service or undertaking, willingly and without pay.”.
Each year Ontario recognizes thousands of volunteers of all ages at ceremonies held around the province. Of the 10,000 men and women across Ontario honored this year, 52 were from the Wellington County catchment area and received acknowledgement in Kitchener.
Individual counties, townships, towns and organizations all pay homage to their dedicated people through recommendations and nomination by their peers.
More recently, the County of Wellington held an appreciation awards ceremony where seven volunteers were recipients of accolades, handshakes, certificates and an etched-glass Inukshuk figurine: Laura Cherrey, Wellington North; Kit Bresnahan, Guelph/Eramosa; Claire Alexander, Puslinch; Walter Grose, Mapleton; Brian Gentles, Erin; Brian Dowling, Centre Wellington; and Harriston’s Linda Campbell representing Minto.
The Inukshuk was carefully chosen by Wellington – originally the Inuit build these manlike sculptures of rock along Canada’s northern shores as markers to lead their way. Today they serve as symbols to remind us of our dependence on one another, and the importance of strong relationships.
Ironically enough, for years Linda Campbell has displayed an Inukshuk at the end of her roadside flower bed. (Linda is also an active member of the Horticultural Society).
In 2011, Campbell attended a banquet at the Lamplighter Inn in London where she received recognition and a framed certificate acknowledging her gift of 100 Blood Donations. This is the Canadian Blood Services’ way of honoring men and women who are consistent in the pledge to help others.
But recognition doesn’t always come with material rewards. Usually it’s just pride for a job well done. Lions’ Clubs, Legions, Women’s Institutes, Church groups etc. are happy with completed projects. One of the local Kinsmen Club’s priorities right now is assisting with Harriston’s new Tannery Park. Working hand in hand with them is the Horticultural Society, whose members will design, select and plant the various trees, shrubs and flowers.
The Horticultural Society keeps active throughout the town. One of the highlights of the year is Campbell’s pet project, the June Garden Festival.
Recently, the group hosted the fourteen Horticultural Societies from District 7 at the Annual General Meeting. To add flair, and make it a meeting to remember, the behind-the-scenes elves found round tablecloths in bright spring colors, and the containers (for the gift bags of promotional items from the community) were snazzy straw hats.
Earth Day was celebrated as an Arbor Day on Saturday, May 5th. Many Harriston and area residents, plus CELP (Community Environmental Leadership Program) students from Norwell District Secondary School, were out in full force to collect garbage, and prune trees along the Greenway Trail and in the local park areas. After a morning’s hard work the volunteers were treated to a lunch at the Gazebo Park compliments of the Town of Minto.