Being a volunteer starts at home - Denny Scott editorial
As the last vestiges of the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo (IPM) story list were erased from our office to-do white board, I looked back on the last 10 months of coverage with pride.
As that board came clean, however, I realized there was one strong theme in all the interviews we did that has not necessarily made its way into the stories we told.
For every committee co-ordinator, volunteer, vendor, business representative and senator at the event, there was a family behind them making their attendance possible.
When I say family, however, I’m not necessarily talking about parents, children, grandchildren and the like – I’m talking about the groups of people with whom we surround ourselves.
When preparing last week’s lengthy IPM recap, I had three people, Jeff and Brian McGavin and Matt Townsend, comment on the fact that their employees made it possible for them to dedicate themselves wholly to the IPM over the last five years. Without that support, they said, they wouldn’t have been able to make sure nothing was left on the table when the day was done.
It’s a feeling I know very well – I’m a parent who works some odd hours and my partner in crime in that adventure, Ashleigh, also works some odd hours. Any time either of us is outside of the house after banking hours without our daughter Mary Jane, it means there is a support network making that happen.
Whether it’s a grandparent, a sibling, a parent or each other, we have to work together to get where we want and need to be on a regular basis.
Each person who helped to make the IPM happen had to have that same network behind him/her, only for them it was a 24-hour initiative. You can’t attend meetings in the evening hours without someone willing to cover you at home with your children. You can’t be at daytime events without knowing the people in your office will cover for you.
Both Townsend and the McGavins explained that they could not have been a part of the match without the people they relied on, both at work and at home.
It’s important to remember a paraphrased version of an old saying: behind every hard worker is an equally hard-working support network.
We’re keenly aware of this in the editorial department at The Citizen. We spend a lot of nights away from home and whether it’s like my house, where that requires the help of a family member babysitting or Ashleigh being at home with Mary Jane, or whether it’s with newlyweds Shawn and Jess; both require an understanding spouse (and understanding friends).
Take, for example, this past weekend.
Both Ashleigh and I worked – I covered events from first thing in the morning to late at night and she was on the day shift at her job.
Unfortunately, due to work, I wasn’t able to attend an annual Halloween party hosted by friends in Brantford and Ashleigh was similarly disposed.
In the past, one of us would have gone “to represent the family” but now, as my friends understand, late-night partying isn’t a thing.
This is all part of getting older and, dare I say it, more mature. We all start to realize that dropping everything and driving two hours to hang out, debate or play board games isn’t feasible with careers and families.
That isn’t to say that, when the opportunity arises, I wouldn’t pack up the family and dash to a friend’s house. It just means that when it can’t happen, most of my friends and family are understanding.
Having that kind of understanding and compassion from friends and family and co-workers is what makes jobs like reporter and editor possible. It’s what makes events like the IPM possible through volunteering.
That could be why those two groups – journalists and volunteers – often fill the same space. It also explains why there is often overlapping of the two.
Shawn, for example, has cycled for multiple charities and is a member of a local service club. Myself – I’ve embraced several one-off volunteer or fundraising positions, once being “arrested” for Crime Stoppers, once growing an ill-conceived mustache for Movember and also doing my best to help in their endeavours. And we’ve also both risked life and limb kissing pigs for the Blyth Business Improvement Area (BIA).
So to the volunteers, businesses, committee chairs, business representatives, senators and even the visitors at the IPM, we say congratulations on a great event. We also say congratulations to every mother, father, sibling, co-worker, child care professional and friend who made sure those volunteers and visitors cold make the IPM such a success.
Life is about balance and, without people at home to keep the scales steady, it’s easy to forget how much goes on behind the curtain.
One last note: thank you to everyone who helps make what I do possible. Your efforts are appreciated more than you may know.