Community groups and community-minded individuals make Esquimalt the special place it is through their selfless volunteerism. The efforts of volunteers become especially apparent during this time of year, when a variety of events are held to celebrate the season. You don’t have to look too hard to see volunteers working behind the scenes to make it all happen.
Our upcoming Celebration of Lights on Dec. 3 is a case in point. The event could not be held without a committee of 18 hard-working people focused on lighting up the community and creating a fun, family friendly event.
Esquimalt’s Celebration of Lights was the dream of long-time resident and community volunteer Dino Fiorin, who died in August of 2016. Early on, Dino worked hard to make his dream a reality, and his vision lives on with every staging of the event. Planning starts early in the year with volunteer fundraising through the Celebration of Lights Car Show, held during the Ribfest weekend in September.
Our annual Christmas Tree Village is supported by local businesses and community groups and turns our recreation facilities into magical festive forests for the enjoyment of facility patrons and other visitors. Decorating a tree for the enjoyment of others is a gift of time and energy that goes a long way at this time of year.
Fitness events such as the Pyjama Prance Fun Run and Walk on Dec. 10 require the efforts of numerous volunteers to plan and stage. The proceeds from this year’s event will benefit the Rainbow Kitchen here in Esquimalt, which provides hot lunches for 125 to 140 people a day, 50 weeks a year.
The Rainbow Kitchen has only one paid kitchen manager and relies on more than 200 volunteers to help prepare meals, fundraise and deliver other services. Volunteerism is the tie that binds these two seemingly disparate organizations.
When you stop and think about it, volunteers are at the centre of our community in so many ways – through their involvement in committees of council, neighbourhood associations, emergency services, the Chamber of Commerce and cultural organizations such as the Township Community Arts Council and the Esquimalt Farmers Market. The success of our 2012 centennial celebration was made possible by the efforts of dozens of volunteers.
I don’t have room in this column to mention individually all of the many committed volunteers and organizations that enrich our community. I thank them all and invite readers to read more about volunteering in Esquimalt and volunteer recognition at esquimalt.ca/volunteer. Have a safe and happy holiday season.
Barb Desjardins is mayor of Esquimalt.