INNISFAIL – For the past four decades Darlene Thompson has been working tirelessly for the community to make it better; a place where dreams can be realized and where there’s always hope despite any challenge.
She’s done it quietly, not wanting accolades of any kind, but now she wants to step up to another level.
For the first time, Thompson is seeking a seat on town council. For her, doing her part to make the Town of Innisfail a place to grow and be better is paramount.
“I guess it’s just to help with the bigger picture. I want to be in the know. I want to know why we do things we do in Innisfail, and I want to help it evolve. I feel we’re kind of stuck in a rut,” said Thompson. “I do want to help bring businesses back to Innisfail. I see a lot of empty buildings, and it is heart wrenching. I want it to grow. I feel we’ve just plateaued.”
With that said, she does support the recent cosmetic work that has taken place in the downtown core to appeal to citizens. “I think that is important,” she said, adding she’s not one who wants to see public money spent “frivolously.
“But I do believe appearance is important when you come into town that looks like, ‘hey, these guys take care of their stuff and they want their town to look good’. I think that is important,” said Thompson.
She and her husband Brad are folks that make things happen. Raising four children, both have been highly active volunteering in the local minor sports scene for many years, notably in hockey and baseball. In fact, about 25 years ago the couple were part of a citizens committee that built two ball diamonds, #7 and #8, by the arena.
The 52-year-old longstanding community volunteer has had a long association with the Kinette Club of Innisfail, and is the current president of the local service club.
“I liked the way they were always out in the community and helping whenever they can. I just like being part of something, and so when my kids were in sports of course we had to volunteer a lot as hockey and ball parents. I quickly became involved by being manager of the kids’ hockey and the ball teams. We hosted provincials here,” she said.
Thompson is also a committed volunteer with the Helping Hand Fund, money that is raised from the annual Dean Turnquist Spring Fever Road Hockey Tournament to provide children from financially challenged families with the opportunity to participate in Innisfail’s minor sports programs.
Most of all she deeply cares about the community, especially now as it bravely navigates through the pandemic, the most devastating public health crisis the community has experienced in more than a century, and one that has ignited a troubling public divide.
Thompson believes the most immediate priority for new council after the Oct. 18 municipal election is to do everything it can to unite the town toward healing from the prolonged polarization.
“I don’t know how to do that but I really feel we need to come together. You are never going to make everybody happy but you’ve got to let everybody know they’ve being heard… and be one instead of being completely divided,” said Thompson, who’s excited about the prospect of being a voice for hope and change. “I am really excited about being part of something new, and hoping to be part of something great and to make things better and more viable. I really want to be part of something bigger.”