Caring for and helping her community has always been one of Gale Ogden’s core values in life.
Ogden, 63, is a well-known face around her home in Lac La Hache, as well as 108 Mile Ranch where she and her husband first settled in 1990. Related to Peter Skene Ogden through her husband Percy, she lives in the Ogden Family Home on Lac La Hache.
“The house we’re living in is over 100 years old and I think that’s part of it. We have this home and our doors have always been open and keep people connected,” said Ogden, who teaches Zumba, weight training and basic fitness classes with her business, Fitness with Gale. “We’re really proud of the community of Lac La Hache.”
Growing up, Ogden said she was surrounded by family, church friends and teachers who taught her the value of reaching out to help people whenever she could. She carried these lessons with her, becoming an active community volunteer and businesswoman.
Over the years she has spearheaded fundraising events for various non-profits, charities and individuals in the region. She once raised money for the Rolf Zeis Memorial Arena by doing a fitness class with other instructors, who are always keen to hop on board. During COVID-19, through her fitness class network, Ogden has also held a Purse Event where they collected 40 purses to donate to the Women’s Safe House in 100 Mile, each filled with items a woman might need. Doing that felt really good, she said.
“I find that I like to volunteer because it seems that when I volunteer I have lots of opportunities to organize events and just meet some incredible volunteer people working behind the scenes to keep things going.”
While her in-person fitness classes are currently on hold due to COVID-19, Ogden was able to hold outdoor physical distant classes over the summer that were well received by the community. Currently, she is running virtual programs but once she’s able to hold outdoor fitness classes again, Ogden said she plans to hold an event to raise money to support the Cariboo Pioneer Centre in Lac La Hache, which is struggling financially due to the pandemic.
Ogden, along with her husband, is also is one of the caretakers for the McKinlay Pioneer Cemetery and serves as secretary to the president of the Lac La Hache Cemetery Association. The group of volunteers are in charge of maintaining the burial grounds and record keeping. Many of her husband’s ancestors are buried there, so the two felt it was time to do their part to care for it.
She and Percy decided two years ago to start holding a Remembrance Day Ceremony at the graveyard, due to the number of veterans buried there. In 2018, 32 people attended, while 75 came the next year. The graveyard service was cancelled last year as a result of the pandemic.
“It was pretty cool to see the community come together,” Ogden said.
Ogden said volunteering helps to make the world a better place.
“It’s good for everyone to find some way to help someone even during COVID times. Just a phone call, donating food to the food bank, all those things still need to be done,” Ogden said. “At the end of the day, it’s my philosophy that for all the kindness I’ve given, I’ve received kindness back and that really helps with anxiety.
“I don’t mean to sound like a saint, because I’m not, but these things have really positive effects for others and me.”