Parker and his Dad found joy in volunteering to clean up town.

The joy of volunteering

Aldergrove Clean-up Day

A while ago now, I participated in the amazing Aldergrove Clean-up Day. I was on a team with Parker, Jeremy, Davis, age 4. Parker, his Dad Sean, St. Dunstan’s pastor, Paul Guiton, and I took on a stretch of 264th Street south of Fraser Highway. Parker’s young eyes were good at spotting even the smallest bits of garbage and he manfully handled a pair of tongs almost as long as himself. Parker will almost certainly grow up to be a volunteer in his community.

Being a volunteer is an education. You can learn the most amazing things. Parker learned a lot that day. He learned that plastic drinking straws are not bio-degradable, that it’s a good idea to wear gum boots if you want to hang out in ditches, to wear a safety vest on the job, to hold Dad’s hand and look both ways when you cross a busy highway, that police officers bring around bottles of water for volunteers, and that it’s O.K. to talk to strangers when you’ve been properly introduced by your Dad. Parker learned, in a real hands-on way, that he is part of a community.

Being a volunteer is rewarding. Most people feel good about what they accomplish as volunteers. That is, at least partly, why we do it. Parker was getting a little tired by the end of his shift, his running shoes were wet and definitely the worse for wear, and those tongs were getting heavy, but his Dad was sure that as soon as he got home he would tell his brothers and his Mum about all he had seen and done that morning. Parker was an important part of our team and I think he felt good about himself and his morning’s work.

We grown-ups also learned and benefited from the experience. Jack Froese was part of our larger team – his group had 264th north of the highway. We heard that Jack was running for mayor before that news hit the papers. You just never know who you will run into and what you will learn when you volunteer. Like Parker, we had also seen enough of our share of garbage, and wet feet (only one of us had the good sense to wear rubber boots and keep her feet dry), and climbing in and out of the muddy ditch picking up some one else’s mess was getting a bit tedious. But as we companionably walked back to our cars chatting with our new friends we all felt pretty good about a job well done. For the next week or so, I would drive down that little stretch of road with a feeling of pride – having made it just a little bit better for every one.

When I attended the Township Volunteer Dinner there was further proof of the value of volunteering to the individual and to the community. It always amazes me when I hear how much the young students nominated for the Pete Swenson Award have already accomplished – academically, athletically and as volunteers. This year, an Aldergrove student, Sunny Bui, was chosen to receive the Pete Swenson Award. Sunny’s list of volunteer activities is impressive and I’d be willing to bet he started volunteering way back in elementary school.

Like almost everything children learn from grown-ups, what we do, seems to stick a lot better than what we say. I see that in my own children. They used to grumble sometimes when I would drag them along to some volunteer event, but just recently my daughter participated with me in the Relay for Life and my youngest son was part of the Acts of Kindness crew who did the house renovation for an Aldergrove family. Parker’s Dad, by modelling volunteering and including his son in the process gives his child, and his community, an invaluable gift.

Editor’s note: the next Aldergrove Clean-up Day is set for Sunday, July 17 from 8 a.m. to noon, meet at Aldergrove Mall parking lot, and enjoy free barbecue lunch after.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Plea deal results in guilty plea in fatal Langley shooting in 2017

First degree murder charge amended to conspiracy to commit murder

Surrey Langley SkyTrain moves forward with third round of public engagement

TransLink is seeking input on new station designs and construction management plans

Virus prompts Langley Camera Club members to refocus

Technology has kept local shutterbugs connected and broadened their horizons

Langley-based charity Wellspring encourages virtual participation for Lake2Lake ride this weekend

Annual 200 km cycle across the Okanagan and Shuswap raises funds for Rwanda relief

Altercation with gunfire in Langley lands two in hospital

Quiet area of Brookswood was awoken at 5 a.m. Friday morning to a fight involving gun shots

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read