Editorial 

Generation Next: making a difference

It’s the summer solstice on Saturday, the official end of fundraising season and the start of summer, when the town resumes its regular job of looking after visitors.

Fundraising goes on all year in Whistler, but the high season is April-June, when everything from doggy washes and bottle drives to live auctions and gala dinners take place – sometimes all on the same day.

All are for worthy causes and organizations. It’s not difficult to support any of them, although it can be difficult to support all of them.

Perhaps it is a sign of the times that there are so many in need of funding.

Perhaps it’s a sign of the community that there are so many people able and willing to help others.

That’s one of the aspects of Whistler that takes a while to understand. There are no overt signs of social assistance in Whistler, no buildings that are exclusively drop in centres or emergency shelters. Even the food bank is located well outside the village, in the Catholic Church at the bottom of Lorimer Road. To the casual observer, Whistler appears to be exclusively the home of the wealthy and a playground for tourists.

But there has always been a sense of social responsibility inherent in the people of Whistler. While people look out for themselves, most also look out for others. And even though there are always immediate issues to deal with, the future – and those who will inherit what we leave behind – has never been forgotten.

This sort of social consciousness is most obvious during fundraising season, when there are so many planned and organized events, but it can also be ignited at a moment’s notice. How many times have pubs and clubs hosted evenings for someone who has run into tough times?

Whistler faces many questions and issues about its future, but one of the most encouraging signs is the sense of community and the sense of responsibility to others that that has existed and is being passed on to the next generation of Whistlerites.

Two weeks ago the Community Foundation of Whistler presented this year’s grants to a number of organizations and individuals. All are worthy, but what was truly impressive was the next generation of Whistlerites who benefited from the funds.

Scholarships went to four Grade 12 students who will be attending university in the fall. The poise and ability these students show mark them as leaders of tomorrow.

Funds also were provided by the CFOW to the Zero Ceiling Society to assist four graduates in taking the peer mentorship program. Zero Ceiling, which brings street kids from Vancouver to Whistler and gives them an opportunity to find direction in their lives, has been a remarkable program from the start. The peer mentorship program completes the loop, making Zero Ceiling self-sustaining and capable of helping future generations.

The CFOW also has a new Whistler Youth Foundation, run by people under 19 who recognize the issues facing youths. This year the Whistler Youth Foundation provided $750 to the Kelty Dennehy Foundation and $250 to the Success Foundation of School District 48 for use by the Pemberton Secondary dragon boat team.

The youths at the CFOW presentations were impressive, and so are the Grade 7 students at Myrtle Philip Community School. Last week 15 students made oral presentations on the theme of sustainability and Whistler. It’s Our Future . Again, the poise, maturity and comprehension demonstrated by the speakers was outstanding. And according to teacher Terry Dunphy, there were at least another 15 students in the class who could have been chosen to make presentations.

This sense of responsibility to others and the importance of sharing is certainly not unique to Whistler, but it is refreshing to see it so ingrained in the next generation.

The youth of Whistler have been raised in an incredible environment and are capable of extraordinary things.

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