By Kate Proctor
In my mind, Thanksgiving always comes a bit too early here in our part of the world. We are usually just getting started at harvest, and while definitely thankful to have made it that far, there is still a lot of work to do to get past that harvest finish line.
This year, however, while the wheat is safely in the bin, the real part of the harvest has not started yet. But thankfulness is on my mind as I watch the fall slowly creep across the land. The days are a little shorter, and the nights a little cooler, but during the day sometimes you can still convince yourself that it is still summer. Until you close your eyes and take a whiff of that fall air – determining the seasons just by smell is one of the advantages of this job.
I was fortunate to be part of an event held recently in Wingham at the North Huron Wescast Community Complex. The Wingham Community Connectors hosted the first Volunteer Fair in conjunction with the Perth-Huron United Way Kickoff. The day reminded me of the great community we live in and how thankful I am to be part of it.
To start, the Wingham Community Connectors is a wonderful group that does just what the name suggests – connects community members with events and services that are going on within the community. Formed in 2018, their mission statement is as follows: “We provide the spark for community growth and development by building sustainable connections between people, community and resources in Wingham and area.” Their vision is of a community that is “vibrant, friendly, and alive with opportunities.”
The group is largely accessible through their Facebook page and roughly encompasses the area bounded by Blyth, Teeswater, Lucknow, and Fordwich. Community members are invited to share and post relevant events including photos from events, job postings, volunteer opportunities, and things that might be of interest to community members. It is not a buy and sell page, nor a place that welcomes negativity. Rather, it is intended to provide a “respectful, uplifting, and safe space for everyone.”
The Volunteer Fair the group hosted was a great way to showcase and celebrate all the work that gets done by volunteers. People attending the event came away commenting on the positive energy and joyfulness that they felt in the room. About 30 organizations were represented at the fair and just seeing those groups made me realize how vibrant and alive our community is.
The groups represented helpers, various forms of recreation, events, and municipalities. Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Blyth Festival, Centre for Employment, Choices for Change, Elementary School Fair, Farmers Market, Friends of the Library, G2G Trail, Girl Guides and Scouts Canada, Horticultural Society, Hospital Auxiliary, Ladies Auxiliary Legion, Lighting of the Lights, Lions Club, Musical Muskrat Festival, North Huron Food Share, One Care, Parent Councils from F.E. Madill and Maitland Elementary School, Restore, Salvation Army, Township of North Huron, United Way Perth Huron, Wingham BIA, Wingham Community Garden and Orchard, Wingham Community Trail Committee, and Wingham Homecoming Committee 2024 were all represented.
I was volunteering as part of a group from the United Way. September is the month that United Way Perth-Huron kicks off their annual fundraising campaign across the region. The North Huron Community Committee, a part of United Way Perth-Huron, celebrated its first year of existence and revealed the fundraising goal at the event, with money raised going toward supporting a new Connection Centre planned for Wingham.
United Way Perth-Huron Kickoff events were also held in Exeter, Goderich, Listowel, St. Marys, and Stratford. All the events included lots of food – with Stratford hosting pulled pork on a bun meal, St. Marys enjoying a town wide pizza night and bed races, Exeter holding a soup challenge among local restaurants, and Goderich hosting a picnic in the park.
Digging into these events shows how many groups and businesses also generously support the community by contributing. Eleven local restaurants from Wingham and Blyth donated prizes to the event including The Blyth Inn, Cornerstone Pizza and Subs, New Orleans Pizza, Great China House Restaurant, Riverview Local Eatery, Castings Public House, Frosty Queen, Sunnyside Grill, Cherrey’s Dog House, McDonald’s Wingham, and ThaiVille Restaurant.
Pick a Posie Vintage from Blyth and The Workshop from Wingham offered sponsorship while the Wingham Knights of Columbus Centre supported the event. Wingham Air Cadets hosted Cherrey’s Dog House Truck and Beavertails food truck was also in attendance. On top of all that, four groups provided musical entertainment outside of the Complex, donating their time, talent, and energy. 101.7 The One and Julie B. also promoted and supported the event.
All of these groups, organizations, and businesses are made up of people and people form fabric that makes our communities strong and vibrant. Coming together in this way brings out the best in us, reminding me of the quote from Mahatma Ghandi that “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” Running through that list of people who step up in our community, I am thankful to see how many care enough to build organizations that help support our most vulnerable members, build people up, and bring us together. ◊