Aldergrove Fair volunteer Mike Robinson getting ready for the next event - the Aldergrove Canada Day Parade. (Special to Aldergrove Star)

‘Volunteering is what keeps social groups together; it is a human way of saying I care’

Aldergrove resident Mike Robinson talks about the importance of lending a hand in the community

Born into a small farming community of about 100 people in New Zealand, Mike Robinson told the Aldergrove Star that his family recognized the importance of volunteering to keep the community running.

“That meant school, church, sports teams, Red Cross, and farming organizations,” Robinson explained. “The community also shared farming resources; neighbours helping neighbours. Since then, I have always been volunteering at something.”

Robinson has lived in Aldergrove since 1997, where he has fostered his love of volunteering for the past several decades.

The main two areas he has dedicated his talents and interests have been Toastmasters – having been past BC governor of the speech organization – and the board for Aldergrove Fair Days.

“I went to a fair meeting as a representative of the Aldergrove Toastmasters Club, to see what we could do together. I found this amazing group of people who were dreaming up such creative ways to get Aldergrovians together under the banners of community fun and farming education,” Robinson explained.

It is now more than 20 years later and he said that sense of creative fun with an agricultural bent is still going strong.

“At our meetings, the discussions are like sparklers for the brain – I always come away buzzing with ideas and motivation,” Robinson said. “That attitude then flows over into my work and my relationships with family and friends.”

His involvement with the annual summer bash doesn’t stop with organization either; both he and current president Robin McIntosh enjoy making wacky attractions.

“They come from a process where when one person says something and the next tries to build on that, and zings back and forwards till someone sits back and goes ‘woo – that will be awesome’,” Robinson said.

The zucchini luge was one of those “wacky awesome” ideas.

A 200-foot luge with loops and jumps, starting 25 foot in the air for little cars made from decorated zucchinis with plastic wheels, has become an anticipated fixture since its inception.

He said the amazed and delighted smiles on the people who enjoy his efforts are simply the icing on the cake.

Though the 2020 fair was moved to the internet after COVID-19 made large gatherings unsafe, the major change didn’t stop volunteers from working together and putting on a show.

“It was interesting to learn some new skills and meet some different people,” Robinson recalled. “2021 will be unique too, still COVID-proof, but more hands on.”

At 65-years-old and still finding new ways to lend a hand, including using his company, WeatherSolve, to provide no-cost sun shelters for local events such as the Fort Jazz and Arts Festival and the Langley Ribfest, Robinson said he has no plans to slow down.

“Humans are social animals. The ones that had the more solo DNA tended not to survive – i.e. they starved or they got eaten by something like a sabre-tooth tiger,” Robinson said. “Volunteering is what keeps social groups together. It is a human way of saying ‘I care.’ The reward is a feeling of belonging and a sense of collective purpose.”

He said Aldergrove is about as good as it gets when it comes to keeping these social groups together and his penchant for showing local pride.

“Goldilocks was looking for something that was just right. Not too hot, not too cold, not too hard, not too soft, not too big and not too small,” Robinson teased. “I believe Aldergrove is that ‘just right’ place. Think weather for hot/cold, city and farming for hard/soft, and population for big/small. Just right sums it up!”

Robinson added that the Aldergrove Fair is always in need of new volunteers, whether it’s people wanting to get involved in the creative processes and are active year round, or others who help out at the actual event. They’re all wanted and welcome.

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