On Saturday, I spent a fantastic morning with our campaign volunteers. A few volunteers usually join me at events and forums, but given how mayoral campaigns work, I don’t often get to visit neighbourhoods with a large group of volunteers as I did during my council campaigns. I’ve missed it. Every day, I’m honoured by the people who give up their time to volunteer for my campaign, day-in and day-out.
But this got me thinking about the importance of volunteerism in our city. I’ve spent the last few months dashing between events and visiting organizations, most of which depend on the goodwill and efforts of volunteers to run. I love meeting those folks — they’re the most passionate Edmontonians you’ll ever meet.
In an election, it can be easy for people to focus on the things that require change or improvement. Those discussions are essential to build the city we want to be. But often we forget to acknowledge aspects of our city that do work well, to bring them to the forefront and ensure they get the support they deserve. Volunteers are one of those intangible but invaluable elements of our city that create and sustain our quality of life, or make us the envy of other places.
There are over 1,000 charities in Edmonton, each backed by a group of committed and engaged people who believe in making a profound difference in the world. They don’t get paid to do this, and they don’t ask for acknowledgement or fame, but they all willingly give back because it strengthens us all. Whether people are working for our environment, health, social services, education, the arts, children, or another cause, what makes Edmonton such a wonderful place to live is our generosity of spirit, our enthusiasm to help others, and our drive to build a community. These are the reasons I love this city so much.
Looking to improve Edmonton means looking for solutions. Sometimes, however, it also means appreciating the power of the offer of a kind word or a hand up. Champions are all around us, and we are lucky to have a city filled with them. If elected mayor, I will make sure the city honours the immeasurable contributions of these individuals — but I wanted to take the time to give them some recognition today.
So, to every volunteer in Edmonton working to make this a cleaner city, a kinder city, a more welcoming city, a city filled with beauty, or an easier city to live in: Thank you.