Meet The Board
Rob Pirzek (President) & Michelle Pirzek (Coordinator) Finding they were driving to Airdrie often for Parades and bus tours to the Airdrie Festival of Lights, the decision to build their home here in 2003 was an easy one! They moved with their two children, Jenn and John along with Michelle’s mom, and quickly looked for ways to be more involved in the community they called home. The opportunity to volunteer with AFOL first presented itself when their daughter’s Girl Guide Group signed on to be one of the Fundraising Groups. It was the perfect way to expose their children to the idea of volunteering! Rob and Michelle believe strongly that ‘by engaging our kids in our communities, we’re teaching them to be invested and respectful of everything around them’. It didn’t take long for Rob and Michelle to join the Board of Directors after seeing the positive impact AFOL had on their children, Jennifer in her time as a fundraising group with Girl Guides, and particularly their son John, who has Aspergers’s and ADHD. The relationships John’s been able to build with the other Board Members and Volunteers and the mentorship he’s received has provided John an incredible opportunity to share his talents, build confidence, and develop into a brilliant young man! We tease that he’s the Unofficial CEO of Festival, because… if you ever have a question, ask John, we’re sure he’ll know the answer! We are forever grateful to AFOL for allowing us to join their little family, as it has changed our lives! We’d love to show you and your family how it can change yours too!
Mark Battle (Vice-President) I moved with my wife and our three children from Calgary to Airdrie in 2011. I have always enjoyed the outdoors during both the summer and winter months so when my son joined the Second Airdrie Scouts and was volunteering at the Festival, rather than just drop him off, I would see if they needed any extra help and I volunteered with him. The people working the festival were so friendly and helpful that I found myself looking forward to volunteering each week. Over the past couple of years I find myself really enjoying watching the smiles of the “children” both young and old while they are visiting the festival and decided that it was such a fantastic atmosphere that I wanted to do anything I could to help keep such a fun and enjoyable event grow in the community we now call home. THANK YOU AIRDRIE!
Liz Wood (Treasurer) Liz and her husband Darren moved with their young family to Airdrie in the fall of 2000 from Cranbrook, British Columbia. As a young family new to Alberta, the adventures were endless. It didn’t take long for them to fall in love with the “little” City of Airdrie. Not so little any more, it is the place they now call home. While volunteering through her work in the Fall of 2016; in assisting with the rewiring and changing of the bulbs, Liz grew passionate about the Airdrie Festival of Lights, and what it brings to our community. Working alongside the amazing, big-hearted people of the Airdrie Festival of Lights, who have given so much of themselves, it was easy for Liz to want be a part of something that brings to much joy to others.
Lori Helston (Secretary) I have volunteered with the Festival for a number of years and I had so much fun I joined the board two years ago as the Board Secretary. During the day I work as a school librarian in an Elementary School and I love working with children and alongside the teachers supporting them with the curriculum and the love of books and reading. Roger and I have been married for 33 years and have 3 grown children who all moved away to attend university and college, and now have moved back home! During the month of December during Festival you can usually find me volunteering either in the Hot Chocolate booth or helping in the Volunteer Trailer. It makes my day to see the excitement in all the faces of how much everyone visiting the Festival love all the lights and the different activities going on. In our spare time we love hanging out with our friends and family, and going to movies . I love to read, hike, sit around the campfire and spend time out at our trailer in the summer.
Roger Helston (Director) Roger moved with his family to Airdrie in 1993 and became involved with the AFOL in 2006. He enjoys outdoor physical activity and various challenges faced each year in order to prepare for and run the festival. As a director and officer while looking after maintenance, he has met many volunteers and sponsors who give so generously of their time and resources while sometimes not in the greatest of weather conditions. Roger spends many hours each year in the park during December helping to keeping things running, but the occasional thank you and the smile on children’s faces truly make it all worthwhile.
Colin Neufeld ( Director) Moved to Airdrie from Red Deer in 2007. Colin and his wife Jessica have been married 17yrs, and have three children, Tiernan, Liam, and Sadie. Colin is a Journeyman Electrician for the last 17 years with a total of 23 years in his trade. He currently works as an electrical designer and third party electrical inspector. We at AFOLS appreciate the expertise he brings to the Board. His hobbies include, woodworking, camping, fly-fishing, spending time with family, and he is an avid gamer. I started volunteering with the AFOLS in 2015, to assist with code compliance and the re-wiring of displays. I’ve really enjoyed being able to volunteer with my family and seeing how happy people are at the festival. Being a father myself, I love helping to make the holidays special for other children and families in Airdrie.
Jessica Neufeld (Volunteer Coordinator) Jessica and her husband Colin moved to Airdrie from Red Deer in 2007. A busy mom of 3 children, Jessica is a certified Holy Fire Reiki Master, Young Living Essential Oils enthusiast, and work from home mom. She is a huge Marvel & DC fan and loves attending Calgary Comic Con every year with her son. With her girls, she enjoys their time with Girl Guides. Some of her hobbies include, spending time with friends and family, helping out at the children’s school, watching movies, crafting, sewing and gardening. An avid volunteer, she also participates with Airdrie Relay For Life, Girl Guides of Canada, Inn From the Cold, and the Airdrie Food Bank, to name a few. I find volunteering very rewarding and enjoy giving back to my community, and appreciate the opportunity with AFOLS to volunteer as a family. We are able to teach our children to take pride and ownership in their community. I have chosen to join the Board of Directors, because I saw a need. I can see the value of the AFOLS in our community & love working with the other board members. We love that Airdrie is so family friendly with many fun and low cost outdoor events like AFOLS. We adore our neighbourhood and our neighbours, and have met so many great friends here.
Allan Watt (Honourary Director) Allan and his wife Jackie, have been married for 28 years now, and have two children. They moved to Airdrie in 1994 and Allan volunteered for the festival in year one in 1996. Five years later, he joined the board of Directors, and stayed for many years. In the mid 2000’s Allan left the board to pursue his Master’s Electrician. After seeing the challenges the AFOLS faced in 2016, it didn’t take Allan long to rediscover his connection with the AFOLS and he has since come back to the organizational side of Festival and is looking forward to helping us build into the next 20 years. Some of his hobbies include hiking and driving the Train!
AIRDRIE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS SOCIETY
Directors: Duties & Accomplishments
Directors meet once a month (July and August meetings may be combined) to plan the Festival and to execute those plans. Directors also help out between September and mid-January (the operating season), and with the occasional event in the off-season. You do not need to commit to any minimum or maximum number of hours; we recognize that everyone leads a busy life with multiple commitments and respect that.
There are no set duties for directors except to come to meetings and participate in discussions and votes. Directors with particular interests are welcome to pursue those interests individually or in collaboration with other directors (and sometimes outside volunteers). We need help in many areas, everything from financial planning to hammering in stakes; let us know what you’d like to pursue, and we’ll do all we can to help you get involved in that area.
Outside the operating season, we have an occasional work bee, but mostly it’s about getting ready for the next season. For the 2017 off-season we’ll tackle issues such as:
- a budget for the 2017 season;
- completing upgrades to the remaining displays we were unable to complete for 2016, including re-wiring and updating to LED bulbs to meet new electrical code requirements
- Developing and implementing a new maintenance program.
- Minor construction projects including setting up our Souvenir Store
- developing a volunteer program, with our new Volunteer Coordinator, Jessica Neufeld!
We’ll address many issues like these in calm and friendly meetings. When we make important decisions, they’re always based on a consensus of directors.
From early-September to mid-November, we ask directors to contribute a few hours a week on preparation work. This will include;
- getting tools for set-up and take-down;
- identifying signage needs and getting signs made;
- registering and assigning volunteers;
- mechanical repairs and maintenance of trains;
- ordering electrical supplies, and so on.
From mid-November to early-January, we ask directors to spend one or two evenings a week serving as a volunteer supervisor in the volunteer trailer, or as a night leader (getting lights on, trains out and running, providing change to venues, supervising parking, counting cash with another director(s) at the end of the evening, and dealing with any crises that might emerge). If possible, we also hope directors will also contribute a few daytime hours a week on projects such as maintaining our website, handling inquiries from potential visitors, and maintaining light displays.
As a group, we directors enjoy working together and take a lot pride in what we accomplish. We experience both the joys and frustrations together. And, for all of us, there is a lot of gratification in the many gushing compliments we get from visitors.
Ultimately, being a director is about the satisfaction that comes from taking on a really big challenge and succeeding much more often than we fail. That satisfaction comes not only from putting on the ‘show’, but from the significant contributions we make to the community. The Festival has contributed an estimated $3-million dollars’ worth of tangible benefits to the City, its residents, and its non-profit groups.
The Festival itself is a provincially chartered non-profit society, with a related Foundation that can provide tax receipts to donors. Our society has successfully staged 19 Festivals, every year since 1996. It serves the community and region by both entertaining and providing an affordable venue for families and friends to do something enjoyable together.
So, in becoming a Director of the Festival you’re doing much more than just putting on a show. You’re an integral and important part of building Airdrie into one of Canada’s best and brightest cities.
For more information, please contact:
Airdrie Festival of Lights Society