The big effects of small-time commitments

A few weeks ago, I was shopping in the Co-op in Carlyle, and a woman from White Bear and I were both criss-crossing paths, each obviously searching for something. So I asked her if she had seen the graham crumbs, and she had not, but then she asked me if I had seen another item.  We both laughed and carried on our up and down pattern. 

A few moments later, her cart zoomed around the corner, and she called out where she had seen the item I was looking for.  Which was the exact moment I saw what she was looking for.  We exchanged some chit chat and carried on our way.  Just shoppers helping shoppers

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I mean, each of us could have found an employee, and they would have been happy to help, but she was there, I was there – that worked too! It was a small time commitment that made a difference to each of us. 

We’ve all probably been in this situation; the one where we go to a party or an event or a business for the first time, and perhaps we don’t really know many people, or the “lay of the land”. Or we have that blank look on our face, trying to disguise our discomfort. 

And then that helpful person singles us out, inviting us in, explaining the “set up” or the expectations, or where to hang our coat and the blast of relief we feel is pretty strong.  Then afterwards, we feel like we have that friendly face that we can sort of go to if we have questions.   These people offer small, generous time commitments, but they make a big difference to someone who feels at sea. 

This is something that sets many businesses aside from others, when they have a designated person to greet people at the door, or when they offer assistance when a person looks confused. A small part of a job, which garners large results over time. 

This is also one of the many festival features which sets the Carlyle Dickens Village Festival apart from the crowd of other community events around the Province.    That feeling of awkwardness is one which unites most of us is alleviated by the presence of community volunteers who play host for the event.

There are official “greeters” and hosts, who dress the part, take shifts in Fezziwig’s entrance and who hand out maps, chat with folks, direct them to the places they most want to go, and generally offer an official “friendly face” for newcomers and community members alike! They make a point of knowing what’s going on where,and helping others to feel welcomed and valued.  

There are also unofficial hosts all over the community: the people who work in the stores, the many buskers who play and entertain, the people on the street who dress in period costumes and a big smile, and encourage others to enjoy themselves, the children who are running around with giant smoked turkey legs and telling others where they purchased them.  

Being a host simply means watching for people who seem a little – well – lost or confused, and jumping in with a quick smile, a quick “can I help you find something?” or a generous offer to accompany people to the place they’re trying to find.   A tiny time commitment – but something we can all do. 

In fact, I wonder if this isn’t just a good way to be generally? Just people  looking out for each other and keeping an open mind for what might be needed, and being willing to offer a helping hand, regardless of whether it’s our job or not – the power of a small bit of time freely shared. 

Maybe folks look at the huge project they believe the Dickens festival is, and are somewhat nervous about – well – getting caught up in huge time commitments.  But in reality, many hands make light work, and perhaps there is a way to make a tiny time commitment which really impacts the overall festival.

Michele Amy will be making up the schedule for volunteer hosts and hostesses for the Dickens festival pretty soon.  The criteria?  Three free hours, an ability to smile and to chat with people, a willingness to dress in period costume (and we have some for lending if needed) and a familiarity with the schedule and location of stuff. 

It’s a great way to be involved in the festival for a short time, meet some lovely people, enjoy being at the hub of the event and helping out. It’s especially awesome if you’re new to town and are wanting to meet some other people and to get involved. Small time commitment.

And because it’s located in Fezzywig’s pub, you’d also get to listen to the music, enjoy a glass of wine or beverage of your choice while brightening people’s experience of the festival. 

Are you willing and able to offer a small time commitment?  Contact Michele at michele.amy@sasktel.net or via Facebook or text 306 577 3447.  She’ll hook you up with a shift/a partner/ a costume . 

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