Busy celebration week

Last week was very busy as we celebrated volunteer appreciation with a reception at Orchard House organized by the South Okanagan Similkameen Volunteer Centre and then a BBQ at Gyro Park on Saturday. I spoke at both events and talked about the reputation our volunteers should be proud to be a part of. Often referred to as a volunteer army, thousands strong at times, volunteers are at the core of our non-profit organizations. As important as funding is for groups, people power makes things happen. When places like Kelowna – which is 4 times larger – struggle to get volunteer numbers for some events, we realize with pride that our collective impact to enrich the lives of those in need has really made a difference. Volunteerism is a community asset, and although we are rich in this asset, we need to continuously work on attracting new blood and ensure we don't burn out the core group of keeners.

On Sunday at the Penticton Sikh Temple, I attend the Vaisakhi celebration, which marks the start of the harvest season. I enjoyed and was thankful to witness and experience different culture and traditions. My message that day to the group was, as a community, we are excited and look forward to a very bountiful year.

Rotary Club hosted Pioneer Appreciation Day on Sunday as we honoured the oldest male, female and couple. Edith Erickson (99) has lived in Penticton for 72 years. Ray Findlay (94) has lived for 90 years in Penticton and has been married to Win for over 73 years.

I also welcomed and spoke at the BC Arts council conference held in Penticton. I challenged the group to create strategies and dialogue on how to engage their communities. Instead of waiting for a large commissioning to fall in their lap, how could everyday infrastructure be made into art? As we continue to revitalize Downtown Penticton, parks or the waterfront, is there a way to make a bike rack or bench a functional piece of art? It would probably have a greater impact if there were smaller art installations doubling as public amenity than one large piece.

Even sports fans had a reason to celebrate. We need to salute our Fred Page Cup champions, the Penticton Vees. It was a great year by the team and we should also acknowledge Peter Brothers for sponsoring free tickets for kids under 18. There was a fantastic atmosphere at the games and great entertainment value was provided. We wish the Vees good luck as they challenge to be the western representatives in the Royal Bank Cup. Go Vees Go!

Speaking of hockey, another great story is the Edmonton Oilers getting the number 1 draft pick again. That is related, because Penticton typically hosts the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars Classic that profiles prospects from Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton. Some of the now key players from those teams showcased their talent at the Young Stars. This bodes well in establishing the event as a premiere hockey must-attend weekend.

Photo: Celebrating at the DPA & RCMP Volunteer Appreciation BBQ in Gyro Park. Many thanks to the DPA for the photo!