Despite COVID, exciting times are ahead


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/05/2021 (743 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Whyte Ridge Community Centre is going through a transition.

It often happens with volunteer organizations, every four or five years. New board members join and inject fresh enthusiasm and ideas and reshape things, and if they’re lucky and plan well, they develop momentum and attract more new members and enjoy success and accomplishments for several years.

However, over time, work, children and dozens of other commitments make it tougher to maintain the momentum. Enthusiasm wanes, board members leave, and the small core group that remains faces increasing stress in trying to keep things going. This final phase is much more real for many community centre boards as a result of COVID-19, particularly when some board members are struggling to manage their own businesses during this time.

The core purpose of community centres is to bring the community together to share positive sports and recreation experiences. For the past year or so this has largely not been possible. Several have managed to maintain some outdoor programming, but for many, the doors have been closed to most residents. For larger community centres that rely on indoor programming to pay the bills, this has been particularly hard. Recent further restrictions have reduced some of the outdoor programming. Whyte Ridge Community Centre has not had the scale of issue as the large community centres have had, but it has been challenging.

At the April annual general meeting, several key executive committee positions were not filled, and there were concerns about how to manage the centre. I attended a subsequent special general meeting where the board had a brainstorming session about where to go next. We reviewed the constitution and were reminded of the purpose of the community centre and the structure and roles, and discussed some of the exciting possibilities that could be achieved if the board got organized. The discussion included the need to change the mindset about COVID — to try to think of this next year not as a continuation of the COVID struggle, but as an opportunity to plan and organize the community centre in preparation for next year, when hopefully we’re beyond the pandemic effects and residents can return. The new splash park and co-ordinating the Pembina Active Living group moving into the centre are key topics to get organized.

We discussed some of the key ingredients to success for the next year. This included the need for structure — well-organized plans identifying the things that need to be addressed, and well-defined job descriptions, updated to fit the goals for each director over the next year. Once the plans are sufficiently organized, the transition is to fundraising and volunteer recruitment, communication and transparency with the community, and offering mechanisms to participate through social media. Hopefully we’ll also get to a stage where we can start to celebrate successes over the next year.

A few days later the executive committee positions were filled and the first board meeting after the AGM was filled with optimism and great ideas. Key goals are to work to energize the community centre and reconnect with the community it serves, and to establish committees to help plan some of the new developments such as the splash pad. Exciting times ahead, despite the COVID challenges.

Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

Nick Barnes

Nick Barnes
Whyte Ridge community correspondent

Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

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