Celebrating those who build community by word and example

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, June 1, 2017

On behalf of all those who interact with these columns, this writer was one of the nominees for Cochrane’s Community Builder of the Year award for 2017. But it was in Edmonton at the 90th birthday celebration for “Mama” Rita Buehler that Mary Anna and I had the honour of embracing a very special community builder in her own right.  Photo, right, by Warren Harbeck

Building community – that’s what you, our coffee companions, are all about in these columns, and that resulted recently in an unexpected honour. It’s also about the 90th birthday celebration of a very special lady in the life of my family. But more about that in a moment; be patient.

Patience? Oh yes, the theme of last week’s column on the lesson our backyard apple tree taught me while Mary Anna and I waited and waited for the promise-filled first buds to burst into beautiful blossoms.

From your many responses, clearly I’m not alone in that struggle. As Calgary reader Larry Spackman put it, “Patience is a virtue I aspire to. I wish I could have it right now!”

Steve Boyd, from Ontario, wrote: “No matter how thick the clouds, the sun still shines in its glory behind them; so also we know that inside that bud lies a blossom of true beauty. All we’re asked to do is believe that it’s there, and believe that, when it’s time, it will come.”

Responses like these are what make these weekly columns such a rewarding experience for me – and obviously for many others. Your wisdom was recognized this past Sunday at the Cochrane Community Awards presentation.

On your behalf I was one of the nominees for Community Builder of the Year. Rightly, it was Cochrane Home Treasures that won that award for their outstanding service in giving back to the community through their thrift store operations. But just the thought that the town was recognizing how your sharing through these columns is a means of building a more caring community is itself an honour.

I was not actually able to be at the Cochrane awards ceremony in person, however. I was in Edmonton attending a festive event for a truly wonderful community builder there. About a hundred family and friends had gathered to celebrate the 90th birthday of Rita Buehler, a woman who has been a mother figure to Mary Anna and me since we first met her over 30 years ago, and a positive presence in the lives of all the others in the party room that afternoon, as well.

“Mama Rita” is the mother of Cochrane resident Gloria Cowley, of Rafter 6 Ranch fame, along with ten others. I’ve lost track of how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren she has contributed to the world. (See my May 27, 2009 column on her late husband, “Papa Jack.”)

So, thank you, Mama Rita, and thank you, Town of Cochrane and all our coffee companions, for your worthy example. Yes, all of you deserve the honour of being named Community Builders. Keep up the great work!

© 2017 Warren Harbeck

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