Overwhelming volunteer support and the ample generosity of donors prompted Altona's Community Exchange to say thank-you to this group of people with a special dinner on Wednesday night. 

Board chair, Cal Funk, says it was great to get a lot of people in the same room to share the story of where the organization has come from, how the evening's guests contributed to its success and where the Exchange hopes to go.

"We had 72 RSVP's tonight and there were quite a few people that couldn't join us. So, in total I would imagine we have somewhere between 80 to 90 people that plug in in some way, shape or form."

Funk figures people are capturing the vision. 

"The overall vision of the Community Exchange, but also individual vision. There are people who are just really passionate about the community meal. There are people who are pumped about Muffin Mondays and they really want to be a part of that. There are people who are involved with, either in the form of volunteer time or donations for Sharing the Warmth. And so, everybody sort of finds their own niche of what they feel comfortable with and where they go with that."

Since launching last September, the nearly 900 meals have been served through monthly community dinners put on by the Altona Bergthaler Church and hosted at The Exchange. The town's newest resource hub has come alongside other community-building efforts such as Muffin Mondays, The Community Shop, Sharing the Warmth, and commUNITY support teams. 

Funk admits they wouldn't be where they are today without their volunteers.

"We have a hard-working board of nine people that meets monthly and then we have sort of a management team that meets weekly. They all participate and put a lot of effort in. But that's only nine people. And that working group is part of that nine people, right? We have ideas, visions of what might happen. But without the volunteers to really be the hands and feet of whatever's going on we wouldn't get anywhere. And oftentimes it's those same volunteers that are coming up with ideas of what we could do in the future and then we're trying to equip them."

While the agency does some in-house programming, it's really about equipping others who have a vision for the community said Funk.

Eight months into its first year of operation, the board has decided to hire some additional administrative help. 

"We have our eyes on some professional folks, bringing someone on staff that would be a big benefit to us as far as us being a community hub and being able to really connect with people where they're at and help them to find the resources that they're looking for. We need that foundation. I think of a little more resources internally so that we can then build on that."

Funk adds that seeing where they've come from since the planning stages, it's cool to see how things are taking off. 


Written with files from Candace Derksen