Community invited to online volunteer appreciation night

·3 min read

Most of us have been to Nanton to visit its famous aviation museum or candy shop, or maybe even just to grab gas on our way to a destination farther along Highway 2. Residents of the Pincher Creek region have the opportunity next week to flip the tables a little and invite a piece of Nanton into their own homes.

As part of Pincher Creek’s volunteer appreciation event, community organizers have arranged for motivational speaker Chris Koch, who was born and raised in Nanton, to be the keynote speaker.

Travelling around the world with his “If I Can” message, Chris helps empower people to do their very best by relating his own experience growing up and living life as a farmer without arms or legs.

Aside from public speaking, Chris is a regular competitor in marathons, which he completes by pushing himself on a longboard. He also fundraises for charities and social organizations through his competitions.

Having listened to Chris speak at a convention a couple of years ago, event organizer Rhonda Oczkowski says his upbringing is what sets him apart from other motivational speakers.

“He very much relates to the farming community and the rural community type of thing,” she says. “It’s pretty neat listening to him describe the different obstacles he’s faced and overcome.”

That message of resiliency, Rhonda adds, will hopefully resonate with the community as we face ongoing challenges associated with the pandemic and provincial health restrictions.

“There’s always that bright side; there’s always a positive to things and we just need to look for it,” she says. “Even though with the current situation or the events that are happening around, there’s a lot of good to be found and sometimes we just don’t know where to find it.”

Highlighting the work volunteers do, Rhonda continues, is a small way to show gratitude for the critical role they play in creating a viable community.

“We would not have the programming and the opportunities that we have if it wasn’t for our volunteers in our area,” she says. “They’re really the backbone of what makes the community and the opportunities that are made available.”

Planning an event to celebrate the community’s volunteers, says Marie Everts, the town’s marketing, events and economic development officer, goes beyond acknowledging those who are formally signed up as volunteers.

“I think we’d be hard-pressed to find someone in our community this year who didn’t do something that was kind, or volunteer time for someone else,” she says. “Everyone has really done their part to help their neighbours and to try and be kind throughout the year.”

As such, she hopes many members of the community are able to tune in to the webinar.

“I am hoping that our senior homes and places where people are already gathering with the restrictions are able to stream it wherever they can be, to try and really get a wide range of community members participating,” she says.

“There’s something special about having someone that’s so motivational and unique that’s really so close to home for us.”

The event will take place Wednesday, April 21, at 7 p.m. Although free to attend, participants must register beforehand as the broadcast will not be publicly streamed.

Registration can be completed online at volunteerappreciation21.eventbrite.com.

Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze