EDITORIAL: Volunteers cash in

In the obscure Tears for Fears song Me and My Big Ideas, vocalist Roland Orzabal croons the line, “We’ll get a volunteer; we’ll pay him well, my dear.”

It was meant to be ironic. After all, as the Oxford dictionary describes the term volunteer, it is “a person who works for an organization without being paid.”

Well, the Parksville Beach Festival Society put paid to that limitation in a big way last week, when it doled out a record $62,150 to 20-plus area service and support organizations and other community groups.

Each of those organizations supplied members to serve as Beach Festival “Volunteer Gate Ambassadors” throughout the five-week run of the festival and the Quality Foods Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition at Parksville’s Community Park this summer.

Of course, the volunteers themselved remain just that within their parent organizations, where they donate time, energy and, on occasion, in-kind goods to benefit fellow citizens in one fashion or another.

But their collective good works on behalf of the Beach Festival elevate the 35-year-old event more than simply a fun, local outing.

It has become, truly, a community event.

The Beach Festival Society has committed to spreading 25 per cent of the money it takes in back to the community through the organizations that assist in putting it on. The bulk of the remainder is used to promote and host future festivals.

As a non-profit organization, the Beach Festival Society cannot hoard or pay itself with “excess” proceeds. Still, we will all profit from the thousands of dollars shared last week, in Parksville and beyond.

Among the uses for the money planned by the local groups who received it are: seniors housing, safety equipment, facilities renovations, arts programs, bike rentals and child safety seats, youth camps, medical equipment and quilts for health care facilities, literacy programs, and Wheels for Wellness and Coats for Kids programs.

Economists tell us that shopping locally is a money multiplier, as businesses and their employees pump currency back into their local economies.

The same clearly holds true for the Beach Festival, which has maximized its benefit to the entire Parksville Qualicum Beach region.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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