Right in the Centre - A message for every community


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

As summer holidays emerge on the scene, I have a favour to ask of every reader. I am especially asking that over the summer, people aged 25-45 years of age contemplate the future of their respective communities.

Summer is filled with great community activities. There are fairs, picnics, sports days, family and school reunions, an endless list of things to do. I want the 25-45 years olds to think about all the events and the facilities in which they are held. Think about the parks, the skating and curling rinks, the community halls and the sports fields and pools in our communities. Think about how they got built, the thousands upon thousands of volunteer hours that put them in place and the volunteer time and money for upkeep and improvements.

All these events, facilities and groups didn’t happen by magic. They didn’t simply appear out of thin air. They all came about by hard work and mostly by the efforts of volunteers.

After you think about all these things, I can almost guarantee you will conclude, “Somebody should take up these causes”. You are absolutely correct! 

What you may not conclude is that the someone is “You!”. 

I can safely say that every community is similar but I will use an example from Neepawa simply because that is the history I know best. I will use one example and that is Neepawa’s Yellowhead Centre, a hall and arena combination unit.

The YHC is made up of parts of the old salt well and some “new” construction. In the 1960s, the salt well shut down. The short version of the story is that the Town of Neepawa turned it over the The Neepawa Centennial Project Inc.. A committee was formed, money raised and the facility opened 50 years ago. That community centre, like many other such facilities in many other communities is a cornerstone of the community.

The underlying message is that some of the people who worked their fingers to the bone to make the Yellowhead what it is today are still alive (and quite active). That means that they were 25-30 years old or so back in the day. A big thank you goes out to them and to the young people who have stepped up over the years to do the community work. 

The problem is that there aren’t enough young people realizing there is work to be done, facilities and organizations can’t run only on 70-80 year old people. There has to be new troops. If you want a community to at least be as healthy as the one you grew up in, then your community needs you. You are badly needed. 

Many times I have heard from younger people, “Well I have to work” or “I have to raise my kids.” That’s true, but what did you think all those now old people did fifty years ago. They worked and raised kids and when there was a fundraising supper to put on they didn’t always buy the food, they often donated it.

As I look across the Banner & Press readership area, every town needs more volunteers, less in-fighting, more cooperation and a swell of improvements. As my generation starts to age out (I was 75 this year) the torch has to pass on and simply standing by is not an option if you want your community to be as good or better than the one you were raised in.

There are some tremendous young leaders in our communities. Many are being taught volunteerism in school and in the community. They need encouragement, they need more helpers and they need to move forward. If the old guard doesn’t get renewed, our community facilities and organizations will die with the passing of our older people. That would be a shame to their memory and a huge loss to our communities. No doubt, our communities will survive but they can thrive and it is a fresh generation of volunteers who will make that reachable.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.