We are an independent, non-profit society that is run by a Volunteer Board of Directors. We work throughout the year, meeting monthly to assess, plan, and implement everything needed to put on this event for 24 years now. Meet our Board Below.
Mark Battle (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!
Rob Pirzek (Vice-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 Asperger'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!
Wendy Hennel (Treasurer) Wendy moved to Airdrie with her family in 2012. She wanted to be part of AFOL in order to give back to this tremendous community. It didn’t take Wendy long to jump in with both feet, and she has been instrumental in her role as Treasurer, ensuring the AFOL remains strong for years to come. Wendy loves spending time with friends and family and enjoys contributing to an event that nurtures those opportunities. In her spare time, you will find Wendy outside or buried in a book.
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. After serving many seasons with the Airdrie Festival of Lights, Lori will be retiring from our board at the end of April. We thank Lori for the time she has given, and wish her all the best, going forward. We look forward to seeing her in the role of volunteer during the season.
Faith Wilks (2019 - Secretary) I moved to Airdrie from Calgary in December 2017, and started volunteering with AFOLS the same year. Being new to Airdrie I wanted to be involved with the community, and I had so much fun volunteering with AFOLS that I wanted to do more, that I decided to join the board of directors at the end of the 2018 season. I’m looking so forward to the many new friendships, and taking on my role as Secretary!
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. After serving many seasons with the Airdrie Festival of Lights, Roger will be retiring from our board at the end of April. We thank him for all he has brought to our board and organization as a whole, and wish him all the best, and look forward to seeing Roger in the role of volunteer during the season.
Casey Waller (Director)
Rob Stuart (Director) I moved to Airdrie in 2015, and wanted a way to be involved in the community I lived. I joined the board that same year, but after the fires in Fort McMurray, my job called me there to help their restoration efforts. I am back for 2019, and am looking forward to helping AFOLS grow. I have five children, who are all grown, and more than 35 years in the construction industry. Having grown up just east of Airdrie, Airdrie seemed like a good fit, as it has small town values, and a great sense of community. Looking forward to a great season! Rob will act as our Safety Officer for the 2019 season, helping us to develop a more comprehensive safety program for all our volunteers.
Dave Boyko (Director) I have volunteered in the Calgary area for many years, and really enjoy the energy and excitement of the Airdrie Festival of Lights. After working the hot chocolate booth last year, I decided I wanted to take an even more active role in the AFOLS, which isn't to say I won't be behind the counter again this year. Dave comes with a wealth of IT experience, and we look forward to his help with all things technical for 2019!
Todd Brand (Sponsorship Coordinator) Todd and his family have lived in Airdrie for 11 years and like so many residents the Airdrie, the Festival of Lights became a source of annual fun and community pride. Several seasons ago Todd agreed to be our sponsorship coordinator and in his words he "gained a whole new level of appreciation for all the work that goes into the Festival". Todd enjoys connecting businesses with the many sponsor opportunities and advantages that the Festival offers. In his "other life" Todd serves as the Chair of the Rocky View School Board of Trustees and his work experience includes teaching, church ministry and organizational development. He is also an active volunteer with the Airdrie & District Soccer Association.
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 2019 off-season we'll tackle issues such as:
- a budget for the 2019 season;
- completing upgrades to the remaining displays we were unable to complete in 2016, including re-wiring and updating to LED bulbs to meet new electrical code requirements
- Developing and implementing a new maintenance program.
- Expanding our volunteer program, and online registration capabilities.
- Setting up our "new to us" volunteer headquarters
- building new donation booths
- Building a comprehensive safety program for volunteers
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. Our society has successfully staged 23 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