By Jambo Paagman
In some way, everyone in our valley, and around the world, has been affected during these past two months by COVID-19. However, throughout these trying times, I have found that our community has come together, and we are all trying to support one another. The Columbia Valley Community Meal Program is one example and it is supporting locals twice a week by providing nutritious meals. Each meal that is prepared looks delicious, as the chefs put in a lot of their time and effort to provide wholesome food for the people of our valley. Volunteers and representatives from the Columbia Valley Food Bank, Family Dynamix, the Metis Chartered Community, the Shuswap Indian Band and the Akisqnuk First Nation have come together to help package and deliver the meals. As a teenager growing up in a small town like Invermere, I have had the privilege of experiencing the selflessness of locals. Whenever there is a problem in our valley, our community residents are quick to always be giving and to help others. However, for the past two months, the people in this town have been even more generous and kinder in many different ways. The Columbia Valley Community Meal Program is one example.
I became interested in volunteering when my dad asked me if I wanted to help. I thought that it would be a great way to support our community. It also seemed like an appealing idea for me because, at that moment, school had barely started online so I found myself with a lot of extra free time. My entire family decided to participate in this program to show our support for others: my dad, Gerard, my mom, Caio and my brother, Bemnet. Volunteering has become the highlight of my week as it allows me to interact with amazing people. Volunteering has been uplifting to us because we know that as a family, we are helping other families. Even though we do this with the whole family, we split up the days. This makes it more interesting for each of us because we enjoy telling one another about our day of volunteering. During this experience, I have found that we have also bonded more as a family while doing this, as we have all had an opportunity to learn something new together. Throughout the past six weeks, we have helped each other to gain more understanding of how it all works. Learning something new together has strengthened our relationship and taught us more about one another.
Through the Columbia Valley Community Meal Program, I have had the opportunity to meet amazing people, all of whom wish to help other locals. As I have interacted with the other volunteers of this program, it has become clear to me just how kind-hearted and loving each helper is. Getting to know the different volunteers has been a highlight of my experience. Every single person that I have had the opportunity to meet has been extremely kind and very hardworking. I have been lucky to meet new people and to learn a little bit about them. I have found out that this is not the first time many of the volunteers have done things for our community. Many of them already volunteer to support others in our valley. Learning this has opened my eyes to see just how much our locals help each other. I know that this experience has had an impact on my future, as I am now sure that I will volunteer more often.
As a high school student, I was intrigued to participate in the Columbia Valley Community Meal Program because I have become more aware of the importance of supporting each other, especially during hard times such as this pandemic. All my teachers have been essential role models for me during this time as they have been continuously reminding me of the importance of looking after one another and, therefore, have given me a reason to want to help. I have also found that by volunteering for the Columbia Valley Community Meal Program, I have learned a lot about things that I would otherwise not have learned at school, especially because I am spending more time with adults who I would have never otherwise met. I have enjoyed volunteering because it has given me a sense of routine, something that I know a lot of people are struggling with now. I found it hard, especially at the beginning of the pandemic.
Volunteering has been an all-around beneficial experience for me, and I would absolutely recommend it to everyone in high school as it is a good way to make a positive change for our community.