Representatives from the Town of Chestermere and from various local businesses came together at the Calgary Yacht Club on July 3 to launch Synergy, a new non-profit set to foster youth and volunteer development in the town.
“(Youth and volunteers) are two areas that we’ve never been able to get enough capacity to ever be able to really, truly serve,” said Patty Sproule, director of community services with the Town of Chestermere. “That’s what Synergy is about – taking the bulls by the horns.”
“We’re creating it from scratch - we know what the community’s needs are because we work with the community all the time.”
Synergy, which was created by the community services department of the Town, is focused on developing programs for youth and establishing a hub for volunteers to get connected with needs in the community.
“I don’t know if there’s been another time where a municipal government has started a not-for-profit,” Sproule said. “But we felt it was a viable opportunity for this area because we did have the experience and the connection with the community.”
Youth programs will focus on providing opportunities for young people in Chestermere to get connected with the community, such as camps. A variety of age groups will be served under different headings, including Kidz (ages seven to nine), Shout (ages 10 to 14) and YELL (ages 14 to 19).
The first program offered to kids in Chestermere was a program called SUPER sampler. The superhero-themed program let kids aged 11 to 15 sample various activities including archery, golf, cooking and basketball, and included an overnight retreat.
Volunteer opportunities for youth will be available soon, but at present interested kids can be part of the construction of a new bike skills park in Chestermere, and organizers are looking for volunteers to sign up to get first pick at shifts.
“I think that the sooner you start working with kids at the earliest age, you can start to develop leadership skills, citizenship awareness, confidence and a sense of belonging,” Sproule said. “Then they’re more receptive when they get older to remain involved with programs.
“Further on in life as young adults and older adults they remain involved with their community and in serving their community.”
Volunteer programs offered by Synergy will include a volunteer database wherein residents of all ages can go online and view opportunities to get matched with various organizations in the town, including the recreation centre and the library.
“Various service clubs all rely on volunteers for different reasons, but they’ve had the same struggles with developing sustainable resources and matching people really well to the right volunteer position for them,” Sproule said.
“We’d like to lighten the load of some of those organizations by centralizing a lot of the recruiting.”
Organizers are planning to establish Synergy as a standalone not-for-profit organization by January of 2014.
For more information, visit www.truesynergy.ca