Long-time volunteer reflects on giving back to community

Sharyn Pahl has given her time to many causes and initiatives



A volunteer’s efforts may sometimes seem to go undetected or unseen, but they have a direct and lasting impact like affecting lives and improving communities.

It’s undeniable that volunteers help shape and grow our local community.

And that’s exactly the case for Sharyn Pahl, a Lacombe-based volunteer who has been donating her time and giving back to the community for well over 20 years.

She may be humble, but her impact is immeasurable.

“There’s nothing earth-shattering with what I do,” she said. “I volunteer because I want to. I enjoy the things I volunteer for. That’s my philosophy.”

Pahl sees volunteering not only as, “Something to do” but it gets her out of the house and out into the community.

One of Pahl’s main volunteer efforts during the months of March and April is assisting in completing income tax returns through the Lacombe and District Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) community volunteer income tax program.

Eight trained volunteers, including Pahl, help prepare basic tax returns for low-income individuals, seniors and families during tax season.

“They can drop off or they can make an appointment and sit down with volunteers and have their taxes done sometimes in five minutes or sometimes in half and hour,” said Pahl. “It really is an excellent program for Lacombe.”

Last year, the FCSS program helped file 419 returns.

Pahl has helped file returns through the volunteer-run program for well over 10 years.

“That’s one of my skills — bookkeeping and income tax,” she noted. “I guess a lot of my volunteering is based on my skills that I am capable of.

“It comes natural for me to offer to do something that I’m again skilled at. It gives me purpose for that day, if I know I’m going to volunteer. When I commit myself, I do it.”

Another facet of volunteering can also involve not only your skill set, but also your interests. Pahl first started out volunteering with the Lacombe Curling Club in the late 80s.

“We (Pahl and her husband) got involved with the curling club and I’ve been a member ever since 1986,” she said.

Pahl has sat on the board and has also volunteered her time at numerous bonspiels including the recent 2015 Jiffy Lube Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the women’s curling provincials and the 2014 Boston Pizza Cup, the men’s curling provincials, both held here in Lacombe.

“I was quite active on the committee for both of those,” she said. “I was there every day for five days.”

Organizers said the Scotties took around 200 volunteers to get off the ground and countless others behind the scenes to make the event a success. Both events were true testaments to local volunteer efforts and endurance within Lacombe.

“It was a big undertaking and it took a lot of volunteers,” said noted of the events. “It may be a few years before the volunteers may want to do it again,” joked Pahl.

Occasionally and throughout the years, Pahl has also volunteered her time to drive friends and those in need to medical appointments.

She is also highly involved and a strong volunteer with the Alberta 55 Plus Games for the local area, which falls under Zone 4.

Pahl started out first as a participant, even winning a silver medal in ice curling a few games ago, but eventually her participation and interest evolved into volunteering as a board member two years ago.

“I ended up becoming treasurer, which I really enjoy,” she said of her involvement on the committee. “We have a lot of activities to offer.”

Pahl still attends many of the activities the Games, both summer and winter, have to offer, like bocce, curling, shuffleboard and various athletics. She acknowledges the experience is highly rewarding and has a direct impact on the community, as with all volunteer efforts.

“Volunteering at the curling function was totally different than volunteering to do income tax, or driving someone to a medical appointment,” she said. “I enjoy them all. I wouldn’t volunteer for something if I didn’t enjoy it.”

Pahl said she is inspired by the people that she helps, in even the smallest of ways.

“The people are so appreciative,” she said. “It makes me feel good that I am giving back and that’s good in my books.”

National Volunteer Week takes place from April 12th to 18th.

As a Canada-wide celebration, it is a time to celebrate and thank the countless volunteers in the community.

For more information, visit www.volunteer.ca.