My original plan for the next three weeks was to showcase a few of the amazing organizations and volunteers that are participating in the Okanagan Volunteer Fair slated for Sept. 16.
But as I sit in my smoky kitchen, on edge and anxious in the midst of the Grouse Complex wildfires, I can’t help but think about the incredible sacrifices made by people who, within the scope of their work, are asked to reach deep and go way above and beyond the regular expectations or requirements of their jobs.
From all of us at KCR, we want to give a giant shout out to ALL of them, as well as the volunteers that are stepping up to support them.
We simply can’t list everyone right away, but there are a few professions that came to my mind. Consider this the start of a Gratitude List.
Feel free to share your vote for a big shout out to teams that are going above and beyond. Share them on our Facebook page, wherever you find this article online or just in your social circle – let’s show our gratitude wherever and whenever we can.
KCR’s Emergency Gratitude List (please add yours at facebook.com/kcrcommunity):
• Firefighters must top this list. They are literally rushing into the thick of the emergency, risking their lives and health, to save us, our beautiful community and the structures that make our lives easier and more comfortable. Consider people’s homes of course, but also the public infrastructure like the new Rose Valley reservoir water treatment plant. A $75 million project that helps to provide vital clean water for thousands of families everyday. Firefighters are seriously working overtime to meet the unprecedented need, forgoing days off and sleep. Consider West Kelowna’s fire chief stating, “It was 100 years worth of firefighting in one night.” Firefighters from other communities are also making their way to this region to help. Their heart, courage and stamina are so incredibly admirable.
• Let’s also recognize all those families that are missing and worrying about their loved ones as they go to work.
• Emergency responders such as the RCMP who step up to ensure traffic flows are safe out of evacuation zones and go knocking door to door to share evacuation orders and information.
• Government workers and officials who are trained and prepared to jump into the fray to set up the Emergency Operations Centres to ensure the resources and services are in place to help needs. This also includes running the communication centres and news conferences that share out the information we are all so desperately seeking. Let’s also consider that we are talking about three different municipalities, a regional district, different fire departments – all of them needing to bring an additional level of communication and collaboration to their work in this crisis. Think also about the reporters who are out there asking questions we wish we could ask so that we can feel like we know what is going on.
• Emergency support services workers and volunteers that are on the front lines of helping distraught families fleeing their homes. Their lives get hijacked as they jump into support mode.
• All those on evacuation orders or alerts who are showing up for their everyday jobs – no matter what they are (grocery stores, gas stations, social service agencies, etc.). It takes additional effort to show up when you can’t sleep in your own bed, or know if your home is safe. And don’t forget, you don’t know who is going through this or not, so just be kind to everyone.
And thank you to you all! We are sending strength and courage to community members that are evacuated or on alert, are suffering due to the smoke and air quality and everyone that is needing to navigate this chaotic time for themselves and for their families.
We recognize this situation is causing even more stress, when people are still reeling from the pandemic and other hardships of the past few years. Please remember to give grace to those around you, knowing that they are doing their best in difficult times.
Also remember, if the stress you are feeling is overwhelming, help is only a call away through the Crisis Line at 1-888-353-CARE (2273). You can call 24/7 and someone will be there to offer support, an empathic ear and access to resources that can help. You can also text 45645 (11 a.m. to 11 p.m. PST). Both texts and calls are free, confidential and anonymous.
If you are interested in sharing your volunteer or organizational news, please contact Dorothee Birker at firstname.lastname@example.org.