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.

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