Lorna Wiebe wasted no time immersing herself in the Deka Lake community.
The former Telus worker and her husband Dan had been part of the lakeside community, starting as seasonal residents in 1992. When they moved to the area permanently in 2002, their neighbours quickly pulled Wiebe into the Deka Lake & District Volunteer Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary.
She was hooked.
“There’s just self-satisfaction of being able to provide fun for the community and just to socialize with everyone,” Wiebe, 62, said. “I just enjoy giving.”
Wiebe found herself participating in every community event the auxiliary was involved in – from group quilting, to bake sales, organizing monthly bingos, supporting the firefighters’ fishing derby and in various community dinners.
She stepped up to become the treasurer of the board and, in the mid-2010s, the president. During her time at the helm, she pushed to improve the fire hall’s amenities, including renovating the washrooms, painting the interior and replacing the hall’s tables and chairs.
“The tables in the hall were so blinking heavy and we had to set them all up and put them away at the end of the evening for our bingos,” Wiebe said, noting she was instrumental in buying folding tables from Costco. “We ended up with 22 beautiful tables on trolleys and 88 chairs or something silly like that.”
Over time Wiebe broadened her community work to include the Deka Lake and District Ratepayers Association, which represents Deka, Hathaway, Higgins and Sulphurous lakes. She is currently the board’s treasurer.
“What they are is a voice for the community,” Wiebe said. “We’re instrumental in fixing up all the accesses there, we provide outhouses, picnic tables made by my husband … that’s what the ratepayers are all about.”
To fund improvements to the various lake accesses, the ratepayers’ group runs a pancake breakfast and a dinner during the Deka Lake VFD’s fishing derby and collect recycling every second week when they operate the Interlakes Landfill. Since the pandemic, they have had to largely rely on funds raised from membership fees and recycling to make ends meet.
Her work doesn’t stop there. Wiebe is also a member of her Neighbourhood Watch, pitches in with other volunteers to clean up Deka Lake’s streets after the May long weekend, and helped lead the push to purchase four automated external defibrillators (AEDs), at a cost of $1,000 each.
The AEDs are stored at the homes of various community members, including hers. If there’s a medical emergency where the ambulance is too far away, she and other volunteers step up to help resuscitate patients dealing with heart problems.
Wiebe credits her fellow volunteers for making Deka Lake such a great community.
“We had community spirit like crazy,” Wiebe said. “It was the old-timers that got us going. We had New Year’s parties that were a hoot with lots of dancing and drinking but it was all in fun.”
Most community events were held at the local fire hall’s shared community space and Wiebe worries the events may now be in limbo as the Cariboo Regional District has stopped allowing public groups to use the facility.
However, the CRD recently said it is considering a dual-use policy for the Deka Lake & District Volunteer Fire Hall.
Wiebe said she intends to carry on volunteering with the ladies auxiliary, though it may soon be rebranded to the Peoples’ Auxiliary. She joked that the ladies would like to have some “manly muscle” to call upon when they run their events.
“I will never stop volunteering, it means too much to me and I have a way of getting people to help so I’m kind of instrumental in doing that,” she said.“Getting people together again is the main thing.”