Volunteering for all the wrong reasons in Spaniard’s Bay
There are many reasons why people volunteer. It can range from a desire to learn new skills, to make a difference in your community or province, or just to make you feel better about yourself.
But if you’re volunteering with the expectation of getting an unfair advantage for yourself or your children, then you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons. We can’t say it any clearer than that. Many say such a culture is widespread in minor hockey, where parental behaviour can be downright scary. But it extends beyond the hockey rink. At last week’s regular meeting of the Spaniard’s Bay town council, Coun. Brenda Seymour introduced a letter from the co-chair of the town’s volunteer recreation commission. The letter, which was written to the town’s recreation director and other commission and town officials, outlined a host of concerns about the state of the summer recreation program.
During the debate, it came to light that the commission held a “pre-registration” for children of those on the commission, effectively moving them to the front of the line. The commission co-chair reluctantly confirmed this when contacted by The Compass, and defended the practice by suggesting such a policy might encourage more people to volunteer for the commission.
Mayor John W. Drover rightfully described this practice as “unfair,” and we can’t agree more. It’s a sure bet the parents who complained about such a practice to the mayor would also share this view.
Time to reassess
It’s hard to criticize volunteers, because they are so vital to the health and spirit of our towns and communities. They run our fire brigades, operate our service groups and coach our children, often with little thanks or reward.
We’re sure the Spaniard’s Bay recreation commission is comprised of well-meaning and generous people who take great pride in their town. It’s not hard to find evidence of civic pride in Spaniard’s Bay. Just look at the amazing success and growth of the annual Lassy Days, which is quickly evolving into one of the region’s best summer festivals.
But the recreation commission needs to reassess this practice of giving their children preferential treatment. It’s divisive, unfair and reflects poorly on the commission. Some might say it reflects poorly on the town as well.
And we disagree that such a practice will encourage people to volunteer. If anything, it will produce the opposite results. We preach fairness and sportsmanship at every level, but the commission appears to be ignoring these principles.
Perhaps the commission would be better served by concentrating more of its efforts on securing increased funding for the summer recreation program so more children can participate.