North Shore vol­un­teer group meet­ing more like a wake

Ray John­son says pos­si­bil­ity of sep­a­rate or­ga­ni­za­tion in fu­ture

The Compass - - NEWS - BY LAURA GRIF­FIN edi­tor@cb­n­com­

With a deep sigh, Ray John­son, in de­feat, mummed the words, “The North Shore Re­gional De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, just folded.”

The as­so­ci­a­tion has been strug­gling fi­nan­cially in re­cent years. With the res­ig­na­tion of many se­nior mem­bers, the fate of the group was in the hands of the pub­lic.

So April 24, John­son, the act­ing chair­man, held a meet­ing at the Ron­nie John­son Com­mu­nity Cen­tre in Western Bay to put a new ex­ec­u­tive in place.

John­son hoped the event would have a big turnout, but with only some 20 people in at­ten­dance, the meet­ing took what John­son called a “somber” turn.

“We didn’t get enough people turn­ing up to the event, and people in at­ten­dance didn’t show in­ter­est in a new de­vel­op­ment as­so­ci­a­tion,” said John­son.

In­stead, they dis­cussed the dif­fi­cul­ties to keep the group alive.

“They were a lit­tle bit le­nient that they felt the ex­pense oc­curred and they money ow­ing. They didn’t want to take on that re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said John­son.

He said there were a num­ber of fac­tors why the group was in trou­ble, such as three fish plants in the Con­cep­tion Bay area shut­ting down, people on night shift work could not at­tend and there has al­ways been dif­fi­cul­ties for the group to com­mu­ni­cate with the pub­lic and them­selves.

“Per­son­ally speak­ing, people are not in­ter­ested in vol­un­teer­ing any­more,” John­son said.

The as­so­ci­a­tion, founded more than two decades ago, for­merly helped carry out projects for com­mu­ni­ties from Kingston to Low Point on Route 70. The or­ga­ni­za­tion lis­tened to the people if they needed con­cerns, “taken to the fore­front” by reach­ing out to govern­ment and or­ga­ni­za­tions for as­sis­tance.

Al­though the as­so­ci­a­tion has folded, John­son per­son­ally be­lieves there is, “great po­ten­tial in New­found­land,” and hopes this doesn’t hin­der other pos­si­bil­i­ties.

As it stands, there are no plans for a new chap­ter of the as­so­ci­a­tion, al­though there is hope for the fu­ture.

“I spoke to some people be­fore I came on tour,” ex­plained John­son, who is a mem­ber of the band Buddy Wa­sis­name and the Other Fellers. “Some people may cre­ate a vol­un­teer com­mit­tee, but noth­ing like the (as­so­ci­a­tion), and take on a full fledged roll.”

A deeper mean­ing

John­son ex­plained if the trend of shut­ting down vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tions continues – not just on the north shore of Con­cep­tion Bay, but through­out New­found­land and Labrador – we could lose com­mu­ni­ties and our iden­tity.

“I don’t know if it will be rec­og­niz­able any­more, that doesn’t mean it won’t be good,” said John­son. “Truth be known, New­found­land is in a boom, as they say, in the North East Avalon,”

“That’s why people won’t take those low pay­ing jobs (out­side the greater St. John’s area).”

So, what does that say to the younger gen­er­a­tion?

“It should tell them they have to take the re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­vid­ing a next page sta­bil­ity plan for the ru­ral ar­eas and the ur­ban ar­eas,” said John­son.

Com­pass file photo

Ray John­son is the act­ing chair­man of the North Shore De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion.

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