In mind of my intention to view corporate social responsibility within a variety of communities, today I’m focusing on people who increase the quality of life in their neighbourhoods, with volunteering in socially responsible initiatives.
For ten years I lived in Guelph, Ontario close to a wonderful park called Sunny Acres. Each fall, as the weather turned wet and cold, the park experienced a drop in its otherwise high use. But once the weather turned consistently below freezing, a small army of volunteers would begin appearing to build three skating areas within the park.
These well-maintained rinks were heavily used from early morning to late, late at night. In fact it was often difficult to get the skaters and hockey players off the ice in order to flood. Many people mistakenly assumed that these neighbourhood ‘Rink Rats’ were paid by the City to shovel and flood. But it was really their commitment to the neighbourhood that brought them out in good and bad weather to create and maintain the ice.
The City supplied the hoses and shovels, and for each day the rink was useable, they contributed funds for a winter festival which included races, games, food and visits from the Guelph Storm hockey team. The Storm liked to occasionally use the Sunny Acres rink for outdoor practices because of its high quality ice surface.
I am not sure how you would put a price on the value of this community contribution. The hours were long, cold and filled with hard labour. But the community gathering place they created brought enjoyment, exercise and memories for hundreds of people each winter.
We keep in touch with our old neighbours in Guelph and know that the rink is still going strong. For socially responsible initiatives which contribute to a community’s quality of life, the Sunny Acres Rink Rats score ten out of ten.