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Fort Macleod has many volunteer opportunities

Angie O'Connor

Angie O’Connor

Angie O’Connor encourages people to use something they are interested in or have a passion for as a gateway to volunteering.
O’Connor, who is director of Fort Macleod Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) said there is no end to opportunities to volunteer.
“We have a large volunteer base, a ton of different organizations who could really benefit from unique skill sets,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor can connect willing volunteers with organizations through her job as FCSS director.
The FCSS office on Second Avenue is a bit of a clearing house for volunteers, with a list of those organizations and their contact people.
FCSS is one of those organizations that needs the help of volunteers.
“Whether people volunteer with me, there are lots of organizations that could use some support,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor would start the process by talking to people about their interests and the type of volunteering they would like to do.
“Until somebody talks to you about your interests, you might not really be sure,” O’Connor said.
Volunteers fill an endless array of roles in Fort Macleod, from reading to children to coaching sports teams, and from teaching arts and crafts to supporting seniors.
O’Connor has seen a shift in the way people volunteer in Fort Macleod and district, away from service clubs toward specific projects.
“I find there are more volunteers now who prefer short activities,” O’Connor said. “They don’t necessarily want to be in a club.”
Through her role as FCSS director O’Connor has seen the number, as well as the impact, of volunteers in Fort Macleod.
Some of those people turned out Monday night for the annual Volunteer Appreciation Night at the Empress Theatre.
“If all the volunteers in Fort Macleod turned out for Volunteer Appreciation Night, they would never fit in the theatre,” O’Connor said with a laugh.
The work done by volunteers in Fort Macleod and district is important, O’Connor said, whether it is shovelling sidewalks for a neighbour, picking up garbage around town, coaching youth or delivering food through the Meals On Wheels program.
People see a need and step up to fill it.
“There are a lot of people who go about it happily,” O’Connor said of these unsung heroes who help out where needed. “Those are great assets.”
In addition to helping the community, volunteers also help themselves by socializing with others and knowing they have helped.
“There are a lot of personal rewards to volunteering,” O’Connor said, adding that it is true that the ripples you send out in life come back to you.
Complete records of volunteer hours are not kept in Fort Macleod, but O’Connor said there is no doubt the number is huge.
“The commitment that generally happens in the background is mind-boggling, really,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor wants volunteers to know their efforts are appreciated, and have great value.
“Some people don’t see how valuable they have been,” O’Connor said.
The town would be poorer if volunteers didn’t help.
“Things would just shut down,” O’Connor said. “There would be tons of disappointment.”
Anyone who would like to volunteer, but who is not certain how to get involved, is encouraged to visit the FCSS office.
“We an only do so much with so many people,” O’Connor said. “We all have to pitch in. There are opportunities in Macleod that are coming up again and again.”