This week, we were lucky to sit-down and take a look at what it's like to be Dream Home Chairman of the Red Deer Kinsmen Club. From a young age, Craig Smallwood has been part of the community and his journey highlights the added benefits of being part of the Kinsmen Club.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to becoming a Red Deer Kinsmen club member?
My Dad was a member. He actually founded the club in my hometown. It meant I was called a “Kin Kid”. Every year we would have a Kin Kids Christmas Party with all the children of Kinsmen members, a Camping trip, and sometimes just hanging out when our dads would bring us when they volunteered. I saw how much my Dad did for the community and admired him for it...I suppose like any kid, I wanted to be like my dad.
Why did you decide to be chairman?
I knew it was one way I could make a huge difference in the community…plus it looks really good on a dating profile.
What is your biggest motivation when it comes being a successful chairman?
This year is tough on many people. The School lunch program has increased from 150 to 350 students and is underfunded. Kids need funding to not have to drop out of organized sports and the food bank is taxed. My friend from Brazil was surprised when I told her this. “A country like Canada shouldn’t have such problems,” she said. She’s right and though I can’t solve it, I can give the community a platform to be able to. That’s what drives me.
“A platform to be able to” I like that. Can you give a few examples of this?
Kin-ex Arenas, Kinsmen parent suite in the hospital, Kin Canyon, Kinsmen Tennis court, etc. They have our name on it but we didn’t build it, our supporters did.
What are the challenges about being chairman?
I would say that it can be very overwhelming at times but the positives outweigh the challenges. I’m very lucky to have met several people who aren’t just Kinsmen members to me anymore, but my best friends who rally around me when times get tough. My buddy JC may like to stick raw shrimp in my shoes at 3 am (not to be found for days), but has been amazing at helping me through this journey…along with Nabil, Rich, Myles, and several others.
Raw Shrimp? So I take it that Kinsmen members like to play pranks on each other?
Oh yah, I once bought three live chickens, purchased cat collars and doggy bowls at pet smart, then humanely left them in my Kinsmen buddies back yard…he did not find it amusing.
Moving on, what advice would you give to someone who is looking to be more involved in his or her community?
Find the club that fits you. Every club has their niche and their shtick. For the Kinsmen it’s that we are all mainly in our 20s, 30s, and early 40s. Our motto is “Serving the Community’s Greatest Needs”, but we go to the pub for beer and pizza after sometimes, tease each other, and laugh and joke at our meetings. That isn’t for everyone. There are clubs that wear suits and are very formal, some that are mainly retirees, and some that you get to drive tiny mini-cars and wear cool little hats in parades. Find the one that suits you.
With the lottery coming up, what are some of the new changes being made to make this year the best yet?
We brought back a sports car. Cam Clark Ford’s donation to the club was outstanding. We typically get a discount but this was a donation! New tickets that look amazing, a built-in beer tap in the games room, free house keeping prizes from Molly Maid and Sportsnet gave us tickets to the Jays and we’re working on “special access” to some players.
Thanks again Craig for giving us the inside scoop on the Red Deer Kinsmen Club and we looking forward to hearing more about upcoming events that you have in-store for both the community and club members.