Before I moved to Princeton in 1986 I could probably count the number of hours I had ‘given away’ as a volunteer on one hand. That changed considerably shortly after I became a member of this community. I was elected to the Vice President seat on the Princeton & District Chamber of Commerce. It was a slightly bigger job than I had anticipated at the time but thankfully there were other volunteers around.
I had the good fortune of working with Roberta Baron and we managed to get a lot of things done out of what was the Chamber Office at the time – the Caboose. It sat on the grounds in front of the Museum building on Vermilion Avenue. My present Chamber of Commerce ‘team’ includes Brenda Crawford, Joyce Edwards, Bruce Read and Ingrid Gauw. I have always been somewhat fortunate to be grouped together with people I can learn from in any setting.
Town Council Provided Direction
Mayor Gloria Stout was a source of inspiration to me from my very first meeting with her. I sat in Town Council meetings and saw how her heart was firmly in place with all things related to Princeton as her top priority. Over my years as a local member of the media, I have attended well over 400 regular Town Council meetings. The manner in which they were conducted, helped me mold the approach I took chairing meetings of the groups I became involved with.
Other Mayors I enjoyed having to work with as part of my work (radio then newspaper) and as a volunteer included John ‘Smudge’ Rubis, John Stinson, Keith Olsen and Randy McLean. I would spend hours pouring over agendas, meeting minutes and other documents to try to learn the mechanics of local politics. Lucky for me, I had a lot of access to information and could find out what I needed or could ask questions for clarification – sometimes during a meeting.
Laurie Currie Got The Ball Rolling
But it all had to start somewhere. If I were to pin the it on anyone who pushed me to get involved in my community, it would be Laurie Currie. He hired me to assume the role of Assistant Manager at the local radio station and it was that job that lured me away from the radio gig I had in Penticton. He and I hit it off quickly and he was a great mentor to me. I may not have listened to all of the things he shared with me but there was one that I followed.
Currie told me that I had to do what is commonly referred to in today’s world as networking. In his mind, the best way to do that in Princeton was to get involved in a local non-profit organization or two. Looking back on it, I’m so glad I followed his advice. You have probably seen the road up by the PXA Grounds with the name of ‘Laurie Currie Way’ on it. I was the person who approached Town Council following Currie’s death and suggested the tribute.
Princeton Racing Days Involvement
Currie was also the guy who pulled me into the activities at the PXA Grounds. First, I became Princeton Racing Days President in 1990 and soon after, I was also Princeton Exhibition Association President. I learned a lot about agricultural and equestrian activities I had little knowledge about prior to that involvement. It also exposed me to some great volunteers within our community who truly had passion in their veins for whatever they did.
While involved in Racing Days I got to work with Bob and Ev Beale (I suggested naming the Tulameen Cup the Bob Beale Memorial Tulameen Cup soon after his passing), Glenn Sellers, Dennis Cook, Dawn Johnson, Fred Heck and Ed Vermette to name just a few. With the PXA I worked with Ernie Willis, Linda Allison, Harold Allison, George Armstrong and Stan Thompson. Stan was always difficult to get an invoice from for the work he would do at the track as he always felt it was his contribution. I remember making headway at one PXA meeting where Stan decided that as long as we provided enough to cover fuel, we didn’t owe him anything else. Sometimes a cup of coffee was sufficient. I learned in a hurry that things got done with the right people in place.
Princeton Crisis Assistance Was Rewarding
I sat on several non-profit boards and continue to. One of the most rewarding experiences for me was when I was the Vice President of the Princeton Crisis Assistance Society. I worked with President Ted Worthington for many years in that group. Earl Driver was another stand-out member. I was involved when the decision was made to set up a storefront location for the group. Originally it was located where Fields is now, and eventually moved to its present location. The ‘Crisis Store’ generated a good chunk of the revenue needed to finance the annual Christmas Hamper Drive when I was part of the group. It still makes me proud to see that store.
My volunteer work has included the Princeton & District Museum & Archives Society which put me to work alongside some very special people including Evelyn McCallum, Rika Ruebsaat, Shirley Freding and Marjorie Holland. With my work as the Chairman of the Granite Creek Preservation Society, I have had the pleasure of working together with Bob & Diane Sterne, Ole Juul and Chris Goodfellow. I am certain that I have forgotten some key players but that is not intentional.
What I Learned From Volunteering
Well, the obvious thing to me is that if it weren’t for volunteers in Princeton and area, we’d be a pretty sad little town. Many of the public facilities we enjoy in our community would never have been built without the contributions of local volunteers.
The second thing I discovered was that many of the local celebrations we have hosted in and around our community would not take place without volunteers. There was a time when Racing Days weekend had no less than six different events hosted by different non-profit organizations all working together to build the character of our community.
Thirdly, I have to admit that although my father always used to tell me that my “time is worth money” I learned from volunteering in Princeton that the time is well spent doing good things for others. That in itself makes the hours used for volunteering more valuable than an hourly rate.
I also learned that I have either been able to enhance some of my skills, or I have picked up auxiliary skills from volunteering. While I usually prefer to sit as a table director on most of the groups I have joined, I have learned to better understand processes required to do things properly.
One more thing I discovered as a volunteer was that it is a great way to meet people. Laurie Currie was bang on when he said it would be good to ‘network’ and make some lasting connections within the community. If you are new to town, get involved. It will make you friends.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, the other volunteers I have spent time with over the past 32 years have helped to shape my character. I have learned a great deal about myself and what capabilities I actually have. The great people I have worked with and continue to work with get much of the credit for helping me to become the community member I am today. I am not afraid to serve my community and have done so in many different capacities. This municipal election presents another potential form of service. On October 20, remember to choose those you wish to have serving you as the leaders of your community.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.