story and photography by Kurtis Kristianson
Whether it’s running a sporting club or other community groups like Girl Guides or Scouts Canada, volunteers are behind the scenes, putting time and passion into making sure these organizations are available in the community.
Some extracurricular activities can be pricey for parents – like hockey, for example, between equipment, ice time and travel expenses – but if it weren’t for volunteers putting their time in for free, they would cost even more.
Political duties, although paid in some situations, is another form of volunteering that is often overlooked. Taking a seat on council or being voted in as mayor is generally less of a financial move and more a sense of responsibility, at least in small towns.
Lifelong Crossfield resident and recently elected Mayor Jo Tennant has made a career out of volunteering. Like most parents of young families, Tennant got her start volunteering for clubs her children were involved with. She eventually became involved in other organizations in the area, including Inn from the Cold, Airdrie and District Victims Assistance Society and Youth Justice.
In 1986, Tennant found herself involved in a municipal issue and decided she wanted to do something about it by becoming part of the solution.
“It was an election year. Why don’t I throw my hat in the ring and do something about it?” Tennant said. “If people have issues, I think there is an obligation that they should get involved.”
Tennant has amassed decades of involvement with multiple organizations, including four terms on town council, as well as three terms as mayor, and now onto her fourth. Sixty years of volunteering time and energy to clubs, organizations and municipal politics is a lot, but Tennant said she enjoys the requirements.
Running a municipality contains many moving parts. Tennant understands important projects or changes don’t happen over night and could require years of work and persistence. Being able to understand how all levels and aspects of community affairs work interdependently is one of the biggest reasons Tennant said she is still at it today.
All this time in service could have meant moving and working elsewhere, but Tennant chose to stay in Crossfield – the community she grew up in.
“I still care about the community.
Considering how many years I’ve lived here, my heart is still here.”