Around Alberta: Hanna

National Volunteer Week is a celebration of non-profit organizations in various communities and of the many volunteers who ensure that these organizations operate smoothly and provide services needed in the community.  Recognizing the importance of celebrating those volunteers, we provide funding with the support of the Government of Alberta to organizations planning events in honour of the volunteers in their communities.  These events help to amplify the good being done by volunteers, and are a great way to bring communities closer together.

This month we are so excited to be highlighting the town of Hanna, Alberta, and their organization, Lynks!

A brief story of Lynks

“The whole purpose of our existence here is to enhance quality of people’s lives through programs, through projects, and connections.”

–       Doray Veno 

Lynks, previously the two separate organizations of Hanna Volunteer Association and Hanna Learning Centre, provides many services to the town of Hanna and to surrounding communities.  These services can be broken down into four core departments. First is their community learning centre.  The volunteers working in the learning centre offer services helping with all levels ranging from foundational family literacy all the way to prepping post secondary students for upcoming exams.  They even have a partnership with Campus Alberta Central, which helps students in Hanna and surrounding areas access information and connect with both Olds College and Red Deer Polytechnic.  Second is their career and employment centre, which helps people become employment ready, such as proving help with resume building and the writing of cover letters.  They have also connected with employers and helped them train new employees!  Third is their business service, which connects them to local businesses and employers and provides them with training and support in terms of running a small business.  The fourth department is called Connecting Communities, which is where their volunteer centre is located, and also where they offer vulnerable and marginalized supports and aid for senior citizens navigating a digital world.

Navigating the Pandemic

During the pandemic, Lynks opted to remain open as they are not a government organization.  They knew that there were many people who depended on their services, and it didn’t feel right to close in a time of crisis.  While they did experience an influx of online appointments, there were still people who were thankful for the option to visit in person.  Coming out of the pandemic, they knew that Hanna needed something fun that reignited pre-pandemic feelings of connection, so for National Volunteer Week 2022, they put on a sports-themed event with the Town of Hanna and invited youth sports teams in the community and they even connected with Tyler Smith, who spoke at the event.  With stadium-style snacks and many volunteers and community members coming together, this was the perfect way to reconnect after isolating for so long.

Celebrating Volunteers in the Community

For National Volunteer Week 2022, along with a need for connection coming out of the pandemic, representatives from Hanna felt that they were missing a key demographic in past celebrations: youth and volunteers in their 30s who put so much time and effort into the community.  This is a main reason why they decided to go with a non-traditional route with the sports theme.  Everyone was encouraged to wear their favourite team jersey to add to the fun as well!  This was a very successful event and it was also a fantastic networking activity for youth/young adults in Hanna and surrounding communities.

Empathy in action at Lynks

“It’s what we do”

–       Doray Veno  

Volunteers at Lynks are always working to ensure that everyone in the community is looked after.  Whether it be helping drug-dependant individuals find treatment and detox services, preparing students to take exams, or providing assistance for senior citizens in filling out online government documents, the volunteers and staff at Lynks are constantly bringing forward new ideas to better the community and those living in it!

Hanna volunteers helping create a thriving community

There is so much time and effort that goes into providing such a broad array of resources to a community.  Without the work of these volunteers and staff, there would be so many groups who would remain invisible and vulnerable in society.  We at Volunteer Alberta are so thankful for everything the volunteers at Lynks do to help improve Alberta’s quality of life and make this province a great place to call home!

 Ella Romanchych (She/Her)

Political Science Student at the University of Alberta

Ella is a student at the UofA and is writing for Volunteer Alberta as a CSL volunteer placement.  This has been her first experience working with the non-profit sector and she has thoroughly enjoyed this learning opportunity.  In the future, Ella hopes to work with the Government of Canada potentially in communications or public relations.  In her spare time, she enjoys trying new restaurants with friends, reading, and spending time with her cat, Missy.