Volunteers are an integral part of any community and with next week marked as National Volunteer Week, recognition of those who freely give of their time is all the more important.
National Volunteer Week runs April 12th-18th.
Valerie and Doug Sandall, long-time residents, are both avid volunteers in the Central Alberta community.
Valerie, along with Joan Donald, were the first chairs of the Festival of Trees in Red Deer. She has also sat on the Hospital Foundation Board, organized fundraising dinners at Red Deer College, organized past premier dinners, worked on the Capital Campaign for the Red Deer Hospice to complete the funding for the facility, helped with the STARS Air Ambulance campaign to fund a new helicopter and she has done some canvassing for various organizations, among others. Valerie was also very active in the school system and did fundraising when their two daughters were in school.
“I was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom. Doug would come home from work and take care of the parenting duties so I could go and volunteer – it was my ‘out’. I got quite involved with different groups.”
As for Doug, he has enjoyed various volunteer opportunities as well. He is involved with the Red Deer College Foundation and was on the fundraising committee for the new library at RDC. He is also involved with the Kiwanis Club and was past president of the Club. He served on the Twilight Homes Foundation Board for 12 years – 10 of those years as president, and has also served on the board at the Westerner as well as on the audit committee at the Westerner, he has volunteered with the Red Deer Golf and Recreation Society and was on the board of directors of the Downtown Revitalization Committee. He also served on the Fellow of Chartered Accountants disciplinary board as well as their income tax committee.
The Sandalls have lived in Red Deer for 35 years. They initially met in Red Deer before attending college and university in Edmonton. A few years later, they returned to Red Deer to settle down.
“We moved back to Red Deer because we thought it was a great community to raise our family,” said Doug.
“It was probably the best thing we ever did,” added Valerie. “Red Deer was the perfect size to raise your family. Red Deer has so much to offer – we have so many wonderful facilities here and such a wonderful assortment of amenities that it is such a great place to raise a family. Those are the things that drew us back.”
The couple has two daughters, Cynthia who is a registered nurse and Melissa who is a chartered accountant.
One of the first things the Sandalls helped to fundraise for upon their return to Red Deer was the Bower community centre in the mid-1980s.
“We lived in Bower when we first moved back and that was tremendous community spirit that got that building,” said Valerie. “That was a real Bower community effort to build that building and to raise the funds.”
In regards to volunteering, Valerie said she has enjoyed giving her time to various organizations over the years.
“You meet the nicest people by volunteering and you get more back than what you put in,” she added. “When you volunteer you can be helping to raise money for a building, or you are supporting a cause. There is such a sense of pride that you have helped a cause.”
Doug said when there is a need in the community, he is inclined to help out. “When you get involved and help see that materialize – it’s rewarding,” he said. “I worked and earned my living in the community so it is always nice to give back to the community that has been good to you. You get just as much out of these organizations that you put in. You volunteer because you want to be able to contribute – you don’t do it because you think there is going to be a reward, you do it because there is a need.
“That’s part of the fiber of Red Deer – is that it has such a great volunteer base,” he added.
As for encouraging others to volunteer, Valerie said a little bit of time can go a long way. “Understandably so, people are very busy and don’t always have a lot of time. But you don’t have to have a lot of time. Even if it’s just a couple hours a week, there are so many different groups that need volunteers. I’m sure people would get more out of it than what they put into it,” said Valerie. “I think if people just did what they could, our community would be all the better for it.”