With this being the same week we celebrate International Women's Day, I thought why not shine the light on two amazing Cochrane women who exemplify strength, volunteerism, and positive role modelling.
While I interviewed both Amy Swedlo and Pam Moores sometime ago, I have been touched by their story mostly due to their willingness to give without a second thought.
Although these two moms could have sat easily on the sidelines, they instead saw an opportunity to get kids active and seized it. With their own children attending St. Timothy Jr/Sr High School, the mom's joined forces to help out Coach Travis Cummings by volunteering their time, expertise, and encouragement to a couple of unique programs offered at the community level or in conjunction with the school.
Helping out with both the Cochrane Endurance Project as well as St. Tim's first ever Swim Club, the pair have enabled two programs to essentially get off the ground and get running. Often feeling in awe of Coach Cummings ability to mentor such a wide range of youth while still providing top-notch programming in track and cross country, Amy, says how could she not want to give back?! "I wanted to share the love (of sport) and give back because Travis has given my kids so much. When you see someone helping so much it inspires you to say, 'how can I help?'"
Pam shares by wearing a 'coach hat' herself for many, many years, she knows coaches often receive very little recognition and even appreciation for their dedication. Sharing in Amy's sentiment, Pam states deciding to help out Travis was an easy decision. "How could I not want to support him when I see what he gives to the kids?! He is such an awesome mentor to them."
While, yes, both ladies give up an enormous amount of their personal time, they both agree they have a lot of fun along the way too. With all three passionate about fostering a love of sport for the long term, their synergy makes for a great team, shares Amy. "The nice thing is independently we both offered to help and because we have very different skill sets, Travis said I can use you both."
Both ladies not only help with facilitating the programs but are also role models for the youth by participating themselves. "The best thing about it is for the kids to see us struggling, and for them to know that we understand how hard it is."
To me, the best part of their story is while they could have sat back and pointed out the flaws or complained about how these programs didn't exist...they did the exact opposite. They saw a gap and chose to become the solution, which in today's day and age is admirable. With countless rants about society's shortfalls, perhaps we should all ask ourselves what I have done to fix the problem?!
While some people believe they don't have the right skill set or they wait until they are asked to help out, the ladies encourage all community members to extend the helping hand first, believing there is a job for everyone. "You don't have to be a rockstar to help out. In our case, it doesn't mean you necessarily even have to run, but there might be something else you can help with like organization. Unless you're going to give then sometimes don't expect."
Many community organizations are noticing volunteer burnout because it is often the same people showing up, but what would our community look like if everyone played a small part? "It is always the same people at everything, people have to start helping because Cochrane has so much to offer. If you find something that you are interested in speak up because then you will be doing something you like to do, rather than something you are not interested in."
Pam sums things up perfectly, and shares lending a hand is not a burden. "I appreciate so much the choices the kids get to choose from that you have to be giving and not taking. The kids learn so much and the programs wouldn't take place without help, and we love it!"
Perhaps this is a good time to think of what you could personally offer back to our community.
If you would like more information on the Cochrane Endurance Project, go HERE. The program is free and open to youth (grade six and up) as well as adults of all ages.