Steve Thorlakson: Volunteer transfusion needed urgently

stevethorlakson

'Transfusion needed urgently!’ If you saw this headline, you’d probably think the blood bank was running terribly short on supplies. 

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Many of us will remember when we used to have blood donor clinics in this community, something that ended many years ago due to the cost involved. It was much more economical to collect blood in the large cities and ship it to more remote and rural areas when needed. 

But there’s another kind of transfusion that can’t be accomplished by transferring resources from the big cities. 

I believe the heart of our community, and any smaller community, is our non-profit organizations that make the quality of life the sort of thing that keeps us all here, and proud and thankful for all they do to make our quality of life so great. 

You know what organizations I’m talking about, but lets make a list of just SOME of them.

Churches and temples, to meet our spiritual needs. Minor hockey, soccer, softball and fastball, figure skating, gymnastics, swim clubs – all to look after our physical wellbeing but to also build character and team work principles. 

The Hospital Foundation, the Care Centre Foundation, the Seniors Housing Foundation, Save our Northern Seniors – all geared to assist those whose health is compromised or whose advancing years mean they all need some extra help. 

Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, kidney, the list is endless of organizations that support those suffering with various health issues. 

The Chamber of Commerce, NEAT, Rotary, the Legion, the Elks all do their part to make our community better. 

Last but not least is the arts, including the Library, Cultural Centre, Stage North, various dance groups, music groups and so on. 

You get the message — I’ve only listed a few of the non-profits that make Fort St. John what it is, and apologies to any I’ve missed. It’s not intentional, I’m doing this from memory.

When I moved here 40 years ago, there were two TV Channels: CBC Dawson Creek and CFRN Edmonton, thanks to the volunteers of the Second Signal Society. There were certainly no cell phones or internet. 

If you wanted quality of life as a newcomer, you looked up one of the service clubs (I chose Kinsmen and the Legion), and you gained an instant group of friends. You also worked as a volunteer on projecdts to improve the community. Kin Park is a great example. 

So why do I say a transfusion is needed urgently? 

The common thread in all of this is the lifeblood of these groups — the volunteers —and they are becoming fewer and fewer, and older and older.

There are two ladies who do hair for the residents at Peace Villa who have been doing so for more than 40 years. They may need to make a reservation for themselves in due course. 

If I’m triggering a feeling of guilt, good.

My Mom and Dad taught my siblings and I that we should become involved in community service in order to pay back for the sacrifices made by previous generations. 

I challenge all readers right now: Do you want to make your life better? Then do something to help make somebody else’s life better. 

Volunteer, before that species becomes extinct. Volunteer to pay back for what our parents and grandparents did for us, and pay it forward to make our community better for our children and grandchildren – you won’t regret it.

Steve Thorlakson is a resident and former mayor of Fort St. John.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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