Volunteers really make a community, and it sometimes seems that nowadays, they are much more capable of getting things done than the governments that tax and regulate us.
This train of thought got started with news of the recent passing of Chip Barrett. The longtime White Rock resident and then-White Rock alderman Tom Kirstein started the Canadian Open Sandcastle Competition in 1979. The event was pooh-poohed by the mayor of the day (whom Kirstein went on to defeat in the fall elections that year), but it was a hit with the public, growing to the point that 100,000 people or more came to White Rock to see the creations the various teams would come up with. Within hours, they were washed away by the tide.
The Sandcastle competition put White Rock on the map and was a factor in the dramatic changes in White Rock and South Surrey since that time. Change was going to come anyway – but events like the competition ensured that the people of the community were part of that change in a positive way.
That was just one of Barrett’s many contributions to the community, which continued until his death on May 29 at age 78. He was the longtime chair of the Community Christmas Day dinner for residents of South Surrey and White Rock, which has been providing meals and an opportunity to socialize for people who are lonely on that family-oriented day. It has been in operation for more than 40 years, with other well-known White Rock volunteers George Bryant and Rev. Howard Filsinger among those who helped get it underway.
The same type of community-spirited motivation is behind the extremely popular Vaisakhi parade in Surrey in April, which resumed this year and attracted hundreds of thousands of people. It has become the world’s largest Vaisakhi parade.
The Cloverdale Rodeo and Fair also resumed this year on the May long weekend. Started at the close of the Second World War, it happened because of the desire of volunteers to do something positive and memorable, which helps attract people to the community. That spirit is still alive and well.
Another such event is the long-running North Delta Family Day event, which took place on Sunday.
The North Delta Lions Club got the event started many years ago and is still a part of it. It is an event which brings people of North Delta together.
There are volunteers throughout Surrey, North Delta and White Rock who put a great deal of time and energy into making this corner of the world a better place. They serve on school PACS, with service clubs, with food banks and as volunteers with a huge number of other religious, social, health, educational, historical, environmental and other organizations. None of these three cities would function very well or for very long if they all went away.
Contrast their positive efforts with the never-ending five-year battle over Surrey policing services, the much-delayed replacement of the Massey crossing, the at-times horrific conditions for staff and patients at Surrey Memorial Hospital, the inability of any level of government to either stimulate or provide enough housing or the worsening learning conditions in Surrey schools, due to overcrowding.
Who is getting things done? Volunteers are.
Frank Bucholtz writes twice a month for Black Press Media.