LAC LA BICHE - She’ll tell you that she likes to stay behind the scenes — and she is quick to point out all of the other people who volunteer — but over the past several years, Renee Richard has become a very visible face in the community through her volunteer work.
Richard is currently an active member of the Lac La Biche Kinette Club. She is also one of the club’s founding members. And as the Kinettes celebrate 15 years of activity in the community this year, she is pleased about all the connections the club has made with other local volunteer groups and events.
The Kinettes have worked with their Kinsmen Club partners at many community projects, hosted charity fundraisers like their annual Cookie Walk, Poutine Palooza, the Kinettes Breast Cancer Walk, as well as community painting evenings, and ladies' night events. The Kinettes have also partnered with larger events like the Festival of Trees, the Lac La Biche Winter Festival of Speed, the Lac La Biche Light Up parade, the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl-For-Kids'-Sake, school and playground fundraisers, sporting events and community celebrations.
It’s busy — but rewarding, says Richard, adding a few more events to the list like the Lac La Biche Firefighters' Society annual Santa’s Helpers toy and food hamper collection, and various bonspiels.
Volunteering is good for the community and good for the heart, says Richard. A desire to help and make a difference while positively impacting her community and society is what prompted her to get into volunteering. By helping out in the community she was able to increase her self-esteem and well-being, learn new skills, gain new experiences, as well as make new friends.
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Volunteering, she said, is important for many reasons. Not only does it offer a chance to meet new people and boost social skills, but it can also help with a person’s mental health, reducing stress, helping to gain knowledge, and providing a sense of purpose.
“Volunteering has connected me to lots of people and has helped find a sense of purpose and fulfillment,” she told Lakeland This Week. “Volunteering my time, skills and resources is a rewarding feeling and one of the most powerful ways to make a difference.”
She hopes that more of that volunteer spirit will reach others in the community.
Since becoming chartered in 2010, the Kinettes have been able to keep a steady membership of about 20 over the years, which Richard sees as a good sign. The club meets on the first Wednesday of every month.
“By putting our ideas and events together we have been able to maintain our club and donate our time and money through our numerous events to those in need,” she said.
By being a successful club, Richard says, the Kinettes have been able to donate money to various FCSS programs in the community, to local seniors, the women’s shelter, school breakfast programs, playgrounds, Santa’s Helpers, the Fire Fighter Society, and the Lac La Biche Regional Humane Society.
“We just finished doing a ladies night event in the fall and had a very busy Christmas time,” Richard said. “Our Santa’s Photos and Cookie walk were very successful again this year.”
Coming up on Feb. 24 is Kin Kindness Day. This day, she explained, is a way for members and clubs to thank their communities for their ongoing support and celebrate and honour Kin Canada’s 104-year history of, as the organization’s motto says, ‘serving the community’s greatest need.’
“You can participate by doing small acts of kindness for someone in your life. As a club in the past, we have bagged groceries at the grocery stores. For the last couple of years, we made cards for the seniors at LacAlta Lodge and the Golden Sands seniors’ homes.”
Richard hopes the spirit of kindness and giving spreads across the community. Even if it’s one person, one club or one act of kindness ... it makes a difference, and it can lead to more, she said.