At Lone Butte Rocks last summer, organizers could only find one person willing to direct traffic.
That person ended up being on the highway for eight hours, said Heidi Meier, president of the Lone Butte-Horse Lake Community Association.
It’s nothing new. Community groups across the South Cariboo are in desperate need of volunteers. A similar situation was seen at the South Cariboo Garlic Festival in August, where Jeanette McCrea had to do a lot of legwork herself because of a lack of volunteers. She had 20 volunteers at the event and could have used twice as many.
“A lot of people attend these events and whatnot,” said McCrea. “So, if you’re attending, what’s the problem giving an hour or two?”
Community organizations have been struggling over the past few years to draw more volunteers. This is partly due to members retiring or moving away and no one taking their place. It’s a trend being seen across the South Cariboo, which hosts events such as the Garlic Festival, Interlakes Rodeo or Lone Butte Rocks – all of which could be cancelled if no one steps up.
Indeed, both the Lone Butte and Interlakes community halls had faced the possibility of their respective organizations being shuttered over the past few years.
The pandemic didn’t help.
Meier said if they had just five or six more volunteers, they could have spread the work around, allowing everybody, especially the traffic director, to enjoy the event.
Lorraine Jerema, president of the Interlakes Community Association and the Roe Lake & District Recreation Commission, said people don’t seem to understand the work it takes to put on an event. Many often say they don’t have the time, although they love the event when it happens.
She said it’s essential to bring in new blood and new ideas to keep communities growing.
Meier agreed people often tell her they don’t “have the time to do all that.”
But offering even a small amount of time, even if it’s as simple as peeling a few potatoes, can make all the difference, she said. She said the few who are at the core of the organization are invaluable but they’re getting tired.
“The community hall, we are doing what we can to support the families of our community. That’s what it is there for and should be there for,” said Meier.
But, she added, “It’s not magic, there are no fairies.”