Tonight’s guest blog comes from Rebecca Dakin, Communications Specialist with the Federation of Calgary Communities. The Federation is a support organization to over 220 not-for-profit organizations in Calgary, including the 151 community associations. Their role is to help support these volunteer-run organizations build their knowledge and capacity to offer Calgarians the amazing programs and services they do that improve neighbourhood life in Calgary.
Hey! My name is Rebecca and I’m the Communications Specialist with the Federation of Calgary Communities. I want to tell you about something exciting taking place in Calgary right now – it’s March Community Association Awareness Month!
What is a community association? Community associations are not-for-profit organizations that exist in every neighbourhood in our city – there are 151 of them – and they exist to provide you and your neighbours with a variety of fun opportunities close to home, to be a voice for your community on issues that affect you, and to bring you all together to get to know each other. You might be familiar with your local community centre where you’ve been for activities, and you are correct! That building is managed by the community association, and 101 out of the 151 community associations have one. But they are so much more than just their building.
Community associations started forming in the 1920s for sports and recreation in neighbourhoods, and in the 90+ years since then they have grown into so much more. Community associations have become a hub for neighbourhood life, bringing you and your neighbours together for social events like multicultural festivals and movie in the parks, to games nights and spaghetti dinners. Many also focus on creating gathering spaces like community gardens and outdoor ice rinks for you to enjoy. There are over 40 awesome community association hosted community gardens in Calgary, growing a variety of vegetables that many donate to local charities, and some that also grow hops for that delicious local Village Brewery beer! There are also more than 80 outdoor ice rinks across the city made possible because of community associations.
Something you might not know about community associations is that all of the wonderful work they do is done by volunteers – your neighbours, friends, and other residents in your community. In fact, there are over 20,000 volunteers in community associations, making it the largest collective volunteer movement in our city! To celebrate March being Community Association Awareness Month here in Calgary, we at the Federation of Calgary Communities have launched the Faces of Community portrait series to showcase real community volunteers and the hard work taking place in our city’s neighbourhoods. Throughout the month we will be sharing the portraits and stories of 16 different volunteers from communities across the city who shared with us why they got involved with their community association and what it means to them. Meet the Faces of Community here!
Those 80 ice rinks I mentioned earlier wouldn’t exist without community association volunteers – your neighbours – spending late nights and long hours flooding the rinks, surfacing them regularly, and always making sure they’re safe for you to enjoy. One volunteer once told me that in one winter season he spends over 200 hours maintaining his community’s outdoor rink, but that seeing so many people gathering there and spending quality time together makes it all worth it. This is just one of the many jobs community association volunteers take on to make sure that their neighbours love where they live and all Calgarians have access to fun activities close to home.
So, this March Community Association me and the rest of my team at the Federation of Calgary Communities ask you Calgary, how will YOU be part of it? Take some time this month to explore your community, find out what your community association has to offer you, what programs and activities are taking place, maybe even take part it one, do something for a neighbour, or volunteer at a community event! No contribution is too small, and they all help make our city an even better place to live. Also, consider purchasing a membership with your community association to help support your neighbours who are working every day to make your community the awesome place it is. Community association memberships are super affordable, with the average one being under $25 a year!
We will be introducing you to the Faces of Community, as well as sharing ideas, community association stories, and much more all month long on social media using the hashtag #howwillYOUbepartofit, so follow along and be part of it! You can find us on Twitter at @FedYYC.
To learn more about your community association and what they’re up to check out our website! Thanks for hanging out with me!
P.S. We are Local Laundry’s charity of choice for the month of March, so you could also help support Community Associations by picking out some awesome gear to help show off your YYC or community pride! We think we look pretty darn good in them ourselves ☺
Back to Kathleen here! If you are someone you know would like to be a guest blogger on our blog drop us a line! Chat at chaaa next week Calgary - stay local!