As we approach Volunteer Appreciation Week, we thought it would be interesting to put a call out to followers of our Facebook page to see who they thought were the movers and shakers in Morinville – the people who are transforming this community in a fundamental way through their business, volunteerism, and passion.
The plan was to do a small post-Easter break segment on the community’s News Makers and Shakers. A total of 22 names were received over a few days, each with some impressive reasons as to why they were worthy of being called a community mover and shaker. We know there are many more yet to be named, so many that we’ve decided to do a new segment we’ll try to run as space permits. Morinville News Makers and Shakers will tell the story of the people who put the unity in our community through their work behind the scenes or in the community’s spotlight.
This first instalment will recognize six individuals who were brought to our attention by two or more of our readers. The remaining five will be presented throughout the rest of this week. More will follow in the weeks and months ahead.
Rebecca Holland – Empowering women in different ways
By Stephen Dafoe
Rebecca Holland, who provides community resources for the Sturgeon School Division, is a face that is becoming more and more familiar in the community. In addition to being the facilitator of the GIRLS program, a seven-week program that takes the position that we can never go wrong by investing in our communities’ youth, Holland is also involved with the Morinville Marvelous Moms social media group and is a Jessica Martel Foundation board member.
Holland began her role with the school division a year ago and quickly saw there was a need for a program that addresses self-esteem and body image, something Holland feels is a crucial topic for young women in the program’s 11 to 18 age group. Through the program the girls talk about fears, bullying and things that are happening today that makes it hard to be a teenage girl. That includes talking about how media influences how teens have relationships with people, what they are supposed to look like, what to eat, how to dance, what to wear.
The focus of the program is not solely on self and self-image. Holland said the program looks at strong female role models and the attributes that make them strong women, strong mentors and strong leaders. Once defined, the attributes are compared to those the young women themselves possess.
Though Holland was nominated as a mover and shaker specifically for her work in this positive program, her community work also reaches girls a little older than the GIRLS program does. Whether it is serving on the board of the Jessica Martel Foundation, a group looking to raise money for a women’s shelter to be located somewhere in Sturgeon County, or bringing local moms together for social and societal connections, Holland’s work carries the theme of giving women the support and strength they need.
Though quick to point out the contributions of others in the community, more than one nominator felt Holland is not recognized properly for what she is doing. “She is doing a lot for this town and the people in it and no one takes the time to mention her,” one nominator said of Holland’s efforts.
But for Holland, running a GIRLS group, moderating a social media group for moms, helping adopt some local families over Christmas so they can have what they need, or working at the board level to provide women with safe shelter from abusive situations, is all about serving her community and its residents.
“I really truly believe that a life lived serving others is one truly worth living,” she said. “That’s kind of a philosophy. When we invest in people and bring them to where they are supposed to be – I think that’s why [I do it].”
Service is an integral part of what makes a community a community for Holland. “It’s more than just a place where I live,” she said. “It’s an investment. It’s knowing your neighbours. It’s knowing the moms and being able to wave to people or say hi when you pass by in the store. Community is where I choose to put roots and raise a family. One of the great joys I have is living here and working here. I feel a responsibility to invest here and be part of the community.”