Cold Lake & District Stories
Imagine neighbours and their kids playing sports and lawn games together with the smell of popcorn in the air. It sounds idyllic and charming because it is! Neighbourhood block parties are one of the ways Cold Lake & District FCSS is building a vibrant community.
“Once somebody has a block party, they’re hooked,” says Leanne Draper, Volunteer Services Program Facilitator at Cold Lake & District FCSS. “Individuals and families get to meet each other and form social bonds that they might not have otherwise.”
The community in Cold Lake & District is a transient one. A large military base means people can come as quickly as they go. It’s not easy to get to know your neighbours in this environment, but neighbours are not strangers in this community. On average, Cold Lake & District host 10-12 block parties each year.
“Block parties foster volunteerism too,” says Leanne. “If you know there’s an elderly couple that can’t shovel their driveway, you’re more apt to do some informal volunteering because you got to know who your neighbours are and what their challenges are.”
It’s amazing – block parties are such a simple concept and yet not many of us take the time to try it, especially in urban centers. It’s easy to forget to reach out when there’s many of us living in close proximity to one another.
If we’re not familiar with our neighbours, we may only focus on the things that annoy us about them. Good news is, block parties can be part of the solution to issues like this. Block parties provide opportunities for neighbours to discuss community issues, together, in a causal and friendly atmosphere.
“You’re solving your own community issues without resorting to another authority. It’s a casual event that can allow you to resolve issues in a gentle and responsible way,” says Leanne.
Leanne and her team at Cold Lake and District FCSS also plan to take this model and apply it to vulnerable communities. In collaboration with community partners, they hope to drill down to what the most significant and challenging issues are for these vulnerable communities to better address and meet their needs.
In Cold Lake, volunteers disguised as ‘Snow Angels’ magically make snow-covered yards, driveways, and sidewalks disappear for neighbours in need.
Volunteer Olivier St. Jean, made sure one senior with a health condition never had to shovel her driveway and sidewalks for an entire winter! Before heading to work, Olivier would stop by her home to clear the ice and snow.
In the morning when the senior woke up, she was surprised to find that she could drive her car out of the driveway and walk safely from her house to the driveway! The sidewalks were even safe enough for pedestrians and children to use when passing by her home.
“Olivier has embraced volunteering with gusto,” says Leanne Draper, Volunteer Services Program Facilitator of Cold Lake and District FCSS. “He is a conscientious person and always made sure that she was not without help.”
Olivier began volunteering with Cold Lake and District FCSS in the spring of 2017. At the April 15, 2018 Cold Lake Volunteer Appreciation Event and Awards, Olivier received the 2017 Cold Lake and District “Newbie of the Year” Volunteer Award.
Congratulations to Olivier and all the volunteers celebrated at the Volunteer Awards! You enrich your community with your volunteering!
The Cold Lake and District FCSS Snow Angels Program encourages volunteers to assist their neighbours who require assistance with snow and ice removal from their sidewalks, driveways, and walkways.