They serve veterans after they have served us, raise funds for the fight against cancer, and help ease the pain of burn victims. They help us along the path towards self-reliance and spark our curiosity.
They are our helping hands and saving graces, who step up when others walk away, without any expectations of riches or recognition beyond the knowing satisfaction of a job well done or an appreciative smile.
It is to them that we dedicate this special section Our Saanich Cause, the first chapter in a continuing Saanich News’ series looking at societies, foundations, charities and clubs of every size and scope that have made Saanich and its citizens their cause.
We have chosen to single out such groups, because we want to raise their low profiles towards a level that reflects their larger importance, for they help to constitute what political scientists and sociologists call civil society. It is the section of society that functions outside the instructions of modern bureaucracy, a social laboratory, where we learn the necessary tools and techniques to govern ourselves, honing personal virtues such as patience for the perspective of others and passion for community during the process.
While civil society waxes and wanes in concert with political, social and economic forces, its continued presence remains crucial. Without it and the groups that constitute it, our lives would unfold in solitary isolation.
The groups which we have chosen to highlight in these pages differ, their staff and volunteers as diverse as the causes they serve. Yet what unites each and every one of them is an unflinching personal commitment to the betterment of their corner of the world.
From a distance, their contributions might seem insignificant when compared to larger, more influential associations.
But dare say this to the recipients of money that local cops raise through the Tour de Rock, or mothers who know how to source and prepare healthy, nutritious meals for their children and themselves thanks to programs that the Shelbourne Community Kitchen offers.
Anthologies of this kind run the risk of appearing arbitrary, even cruel because they force their creators to make difficult choices in the absence of clearly defined selection criteria.
To choose some organizations ahead of others ultimately pits them against each other and threatens to diminish all when each and every one deserve recognition.
It is precisely for this reason that this special section will be the first of many to come. The list of local groups that make real differences in the lives of real people is long. In short, we were spoiling for choices and that is great news for Saanich.