Seldom talked about publicly is the subject of one’s own mortality.
In an uncertain world, we can be sure of having to pay taxes and eventually dealing with death. Every week, someone’s husband, wife, mother, father, friend, colleague or favourite celebrity passes. Last week, as an example, we mourned the loss of Canadian rock star Gord Downie and former Penticton councillor and community champion Gus Boersma.
I also attended a friend’s funeral this week. His wife spoke about his spirit, drive and infectious enthusiasm as the characteristics that separated him from all others. His sons spoke of their father as a hero and role model, and how he influenced their lives by putting family first.
With these losses, I was reminded that the impact of our lives extends beyond our family and ripples throughout the community. It makes you think about what people would say about your life or legacy if your funeral was today. How have your contributions to the community helped to make it a better place?
My hope is that these losses inspire people to be more involved within their own community. Whether you choose to volunteer, pick up a new hobby, support local events, be a mentor, get involved in the Official Community Plan or give back to a service organization, it is the spirit of giving to the community that is the essence of what makes Penticton so unique and adds to our charm.
You don’t have to be a rock star like Gord Downie to make a difference either. Look at Gus Boersma, who continued to be heavily involved in the community long after he left his political life. You might have seen him at events or known him as the president of the stamp club where he helped raise over $30,000 for the hospital. I would never have thought the stamp club could make such an impact. We all have passions and expertise that we should channel for positive purpose.
Council is committed to supporting the good work of our community leaders as well. We provide nearly $400,000 in tax exemptions to support the good work of our non-profits and faith-based groups and provide many $1/year leases for our community groups to use city facilities and lands. The fabric of any community is made up of the non-profits and community groups that connect people, talent and good deeds to improve the collective quality of life.
Many of these same groups need an injection of human capital to bring new ideas, passion and energy. This is where we all live, work and play so what are we, the collective, doing to improve our community for future generations?
We are all capable of doing great things in or for our community, and we don’t often get that sense of encouragement or empowerment to create collective impact. Life can be full of regret and we can’t dwell on or change the past, but we can work towards improving our future.
One of my friend’s favourite sayings was ‘every day is a great day’ and he lived his life demonstrating that motto.
Everyone in our community is important and has an opportunity to make a difference for the better. I hope you challenge yourself to give back wherever your passions take you. It may, at times, be frustrating or difficult, but I can assure you that it will also be very rewarding.