Wednesday, April 29, 2009


What’s in a name? How much power does a name have to inspire us, to chart a direction?
Here’s a perspective from Yorkton Saskatchewan, a city of about 1,600 people. Yorkton has a community agency of considerable size. It’s called SIGN, Society for the Involvement of Good Neighbours. SIGN was formed back in the 1960’s by four clergymen of different faiths who thought their faiths could do more if they worked together. They used their combined resources to launch and support services that met local needs. Among other things, they began the city’s first home care service. Over the past forty years they have facilitated many projects.
On a recent trip to Yorkton I had lunch with SIGN’s retiring executive director, Tom Seeley. He told me he had recently been quite busy. You see, a businessman had donated to SIGN a full service hotel. That’s right, a hotel, travel Lodge.
”Really?” I marveled in true amazement. ”What did you do with a full service hotel?”
Well, it took eight months of careful study to determine whether the gift could be accepted. But somehow SIGN was able to convince the RCMP that they should use part of it—bedrooms, dining room, conference facilities and all--for a permanent in-service cross-Canada training facility. Saskatchewan Health stepped up to use some of the space for a comprehensive addictions program. That left some space for community groups like the Boys and Girls Club.
Ever since I heard that story I’ve been wondering something. Is it more surprising that a community group could find use for a full-service hotel, or more surprising that an organization would be so well respected that somebody would donate one? If you name an organization the Society for the Involvement of Good Neighbours, does that help people act like good neighbours?

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