It seems that once our children leave home and establish themselves in other communities we all too often lose regular interaction with generations other than our own. It’s our loss.
Last week that thought came to mind while we were touring around the Okanagan and, especially, Naramata. I had several writing assignments to research for Food and Wine Trails, so we stayed at a bed and breakfast at D’Angelo Estate Winery. Owner Sal D’Angelo is a terrific winemaker who was well established in Ontario before he took sick and spent a couple of years paralyzed from the neck down. When he recovered, he decided to purchase land in Naramata, believing the climate would be more conducive to his health.
He’s been successful, in part because of the involvement of his daughter, Stephanie, who made the move west with him. Vivacious and bubbling with enthusiasm, she runs the wine shop and tasting room and does a lot of the winery’s mountains of paperwork (more of which is involved in shipping wine to Ontario than to China, she pointed out). Stephanie is one of many young people who are finding opportunities in the wine industry and she happily reported that her brother, at the age of 30, has now assumed winemaking duties at the Ontario winery. When Sal later told us the same story, he was clearly pleased that his children are following his footsteps.
It was with our conversations in the Okanagan with young folks like Stephanie fresh on my mind that I attended Wednesday’s Rotary meeting, only to learn that our program would be presented by two Creston residents who attended our district Rotary Youth Leadership Achievement (RYLA) camp in Castlegar this year. I’ve volunteered at this camp before and it is a remarkable experience, seeing up to 50 young adults, ages 18-25, half from Canada and half from the U.S., spend a week in sessions with presenters who help them understand their own attributes and how to use them in leadership roles.
Caileigh Rendek and Joel Mann spoke about their RYLA experience, how it helped them appreciate their own abilities and think about themselves in a different way. They spoke clearly and with passion, sounding like they had years of Toastmasters experience behind them. I don’t think there was a person in the room who didn’t walk out of that meeting feeling more positive about the world than when they walked in.
My week of interaction with younger people continued on Thursday, when I met up with two fellows at Creston and District Community Complex. They both run or share in the operation of businesses, and they both happen to be avid skateboarders. When Lance Ogden called earlier in the week to talk about the need for a new skateboard park, I was impressed with the clarity of his vision and his ability to translate it into words.
Lance and his friend, Jeremiah Wassink, were teenagers when the existing skate park to the west of the community complex parking lot was built. It seemed like a good plan at the time and no doubt many young people have spent many happy hours there. Now, though, 15 years later, they think it’s time to update the park, making it safer, more interesting to use and more appealing to a greater range of interests and ages.
So here we have these two young men wanting to get involved in a project that would benefit not only them but hundreds of others, in a recreational activity that is healthy, popular and quite inexpensive. They admit that they don’t know all the ins and outs of organizing and fundraising and government requirements, but they seem patient and willing to learn. Not one positive aspect of a community arrives in a tidy parcel, dropped in from outer space or by the wave of a magician’s wand. Ideas for new facilities and activities are presented to us by people who have passion, commitment and determination.
Lance and Jeremiah, Caileigh and Joel, and Stephanie in Naramata all seem like they have no shortage of those qualities. I’m glad that in a short period of time I was able to spend time in their presence. It made my week.
Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.