Charlie Teljeur: Volunteeriffic
|By Charlie Teljeur - Contributing Writer | February 2, 2017
I spent last weekend split between two first-class events that were being hosted in Haliburton County. The first was the International Federation of Sleddog Sports World Championships at Haliburton Forest and the second was the Canadian National Pond Hockey Championships that were being held at Pinestone Resort. The mere fact that both of these were being held in Haliburton should make people consider what we’re actually capable of in these parts.
Obviously a big part of the success equation is having large enough facilities that can handle such events. Without these you can’t even begin to entertain the thought of welcoming the world. Another big part – perhaps the biggest part – is having enough people to man these events. And while it would be nice if you had a large enough staff to adequately manage this stuff we all know that the most vital secret ingredient is the invaluable support of local volunteers. While it might sound like a hollow platitude to thank volunteers ‘for making this possible’ it’s an actual, unavoidable fact that without volunteers these things simply don’t happen.
Thing is, Haliburton County does this volunteer thing pretty darned well. Not just in numbers but in the quality of the product. Those who work these events are true ambassadors for the area. It’s like each person in each role has a college degree in local promotion. They are as responsible for the high-quality end products as the facility that hosts them.
So, why are we so great at doing this up here? I think it comes from two major reasons. First of all, the enormous pride people feel for the area. Not just those who live here but from those who used to live here. I met countless volunteers this weekend who drove in from their adopted home to help the area put on a good show. Even though they may rest their head somewhere else, their heart still lives in Haliburton County. They’re there when the county needs them. Part sense of duty, part undying love.
The other reason we do volunteering so well is that we fully appreciate how badly it’s needed. Almost nothing of any importance or magnitude up here gets done without huge input from the volunteering community. There simply aren’t enough resources available. Big events aren’t possible without volunteers playing a major role. This isn’t lost on the event organizers who will tell you time and again how impossible it is to pull something like this off without the invaluable contribution of volunteers.
What makes them extra special is the inherent extra value they bring to their roles. They don’t just work the events, they wear numerous hats. Worker, guide, host, liaison and ambassador. Ask any visitor (and I did) to the area what they took away from being here and overwhelmingly it’s the quality of the event, which can be traced directly back to the quality of the people working said event. Without the one you can’t have the other and we’re all a little better off – financially and emotionally – because of the incredible job they do.
Charlie Teljeur is a contributing writer for The Highlander.