As VP Advancement, part of my joy is to look for and celebrate how our wider community – our friends, donors and volunteers – are a vital part of A Rocha’s work. I shared the following reflection at a recent gathering that honored our volunteers at Brooksdale, but I hope that all of you who volunteer across the country, will see yourselves in these words as well. Your work and its impact echo in similar ways in Northern BC, Manitoba and Ontario.

Christie Goode Portrait

Christie Goode

Vice President of Advancement

Conservation

To those of you who volunteer for our science and conservation projects, thank you. Many of you have heard about Surrey’s ongoing Local Area Planning for the 600-acre zone around our Brooksdale Environmental Centre.

Because of your volunteer work over the past thirteen years, our staff has detailed knowledge to share with city planners about this watershed, its water quality and its threatened species. Because of your work helping with restoration projects, A Rocha has the credibility of having proven our commitment to the long-term health of this area.

The result is that when Surrey’s Community Planning Manager does public meetings related to the Local Area Plan, he includes in his Powerpoint presentation slides of A Rocha data (complete with the A Rocha logo!), and he highlights the need for development in this area to consider the habitats of threatened species. The impact of your monitoring and restoration work is that our Science Director can present at city council, advocating for more protective measures around feeder streams into the river. Later in that same meeting, city council decided to adopt new streamside protection measures, which will benefit all the streamside habitats throughout all of Surrey. Such results could not happen without your volunteer efforts.

Education

Thank you, all of you who volunteer for our education programs. I had the wonderful experience this summer of needing to shoot a video with some footage of our children’s programs, so my three children were “volun-told” they had to come participate in some activities with Shai, one of our children’s education directors. They were grumpy and didn’t want to come, but after an hour with Shai working in the garden and pond dipping, they were so delighted they didn’t want to leave. Similar transformations happen with thousands (thousands!) of school children each year who participate in our programs. That is a beautiful gift that you are a part of. We could not do that without your help as part of our education program. Thank you.

Agriculture

To those of you who work in the gardens, thank you. Because of your planting and weeding and harvesting, each week over 400 people are fed from the A Rocha garden. Because of your work, we have a children’s garden for schoolkids to visit to see how food is grown. Working with our partner agencies, this farm that you help maintain, is a welcoming place for refugees. Many of them have come from homes around the world where they’ve worked the land themselves, but they have been through years of turmoil, and so this is a place that is calm and peaceful, where they can put their hands in the soil and be introduced to Canadian vegetables. If you volunteer on our farm, you know how much work it is to manage a garden this big. Thank you for helping make this farm a place that feeds, teaches, and blesses people.

Hospitality

And to those of you who help us with hospitality — who help cook so much food for so many people — thank you. It is because of your help that we can model how to eat well, with delicious food that is also good for our bodies and good for the earth. It is because of you that visitors and interns can say, as one of our interns this summer did, that she had moved a lot in the last 10-15 years, but she had never felt as welcome as she did at Brooksdale. Thank you for your work that creates a community of such warm and consistent hospitality.

If you are an A Rocha volunteer… thank you. You are making the world a beautiful place, both for people and for creation.

Visit our Volunteer Page