Volunteerism has always been thriving in the little community of Drew. The land it is situated on was even donated to the community by a local family. Before the 1970’s volunteers looked after the maintenance of the park and donations were accepted at all ball games.
In the 1970’s, a local group of volunteers held fundraisers like a ‘Ball-a-thon’ (24 hour baseball) to have towers and lights installed for night games. Volunteers also looked after site maintenance and grounds preparation for all ball games.
The 1980’s were a very busy time for the Community Centre. Minto Township supported a thriving minor baseball program based in Drew, Teviotdale and Greenbush. Each ball park had a group of volunteers who were responsible for bookings, game preparation and generally overseeing that the parks were well maintained. The Minto Township Recreation Committee, again volunteers, made sure each park received a new set of bases each year and also supplied equipment for the teams. A year-end corn roast for all was the social event of the year hosted by the township recreation committee. The committee would donate the corn, cook and serve it along with hotdogs and soft drinks. Eventually the surrounding towns joined this league.
An old time Christmas concert was started by the Drew Centre Board which drew capacity crowds to the ‘old’ Drew hall each year to enjoy local talent and homemade fun. Santa always made an appearance which thrilled all the little ones, now in their 20’s and 30’s. Looking back, it was an enchanting time.
A local group of concerned mothers worked with Social Services to establish a rural child-care centre at Drew. The building we now use as a hall was built with money received from a provincial pilot project for child-care. During this time volunteers also built the pavilion and picnic area, complete with two functioning washrooms.
With the arrival of the ‘90s and 2000’s, minor baseball gave way to soccor and the park was not used as much. The amalgamated Town of Minto felt this park to be a liability and tried to close it. The Drew Board eventually convinced the town to allow it to continue running the park similar to how it had always been managed. People in the community would take turns cutting the grass at the park and hall as well as preparing the diamond for scheduled games of men’s and women’s slow-pitch.
In 2005, one of the children who grew up in the community of Drew in the ‘80s and now lives there with her husband and young family, saw the need to once again organize minor baseball keeping it local and economical. Parents were tired of long drives to games and the high cost of enrolling their children in sports. She did her own advertising, and word of mouth promotion resulted in young children again acquiring a love for baseball at Drew. Parents now had time to socialize and get to know other parents and neighbours at these games.
One year later in 2006 there was a movement to return to this kind of inexpensive activity that highlights good sportsmanship and fun without the stress of long drives and competitiveness. T-ball and three-pitch teams coached by volunteers are once again having fun at the Drew Park as well as some of the surrounding communities. The first Family Fun Day held at the Drew Park was a great conclusion to a summer of fun baseball for children and parents. Supported by the municipality, this event brought teams and families from Harriston, Clifford, Palmerston, and Fordwich to Drew for a day of baseball, food and fun.
Men’s and women’s slow-pitch leagues continue to hold night games at Drew. Volunteers also continue to mow the grass, clean the hall and wash rooms, deal with garbage and line the diamond at no cost to the Town of Minto. The only expense covered by the municipality is regular water testing that is required by the province. Through out the year, the facilities are booked for reunions, garage sales, birthdays, bridal showers and meetings. In winter, there is a monthly euchre night run on donations only. A local men’s ball team, the Swampmonsters, host an annual snow volleyball tournament at Drew.
In 2007 the centre purchased new flooring, tables, chairs and replaced the shingles on the hall. A flower bed was replanted and the light towers had bulbs replaced. All expenses and revenue are directly administered by the Drew Board.
2008 will also be the fourth year that the Drew Community Centre Board will host a Pork Chop BBQ at the park. Each July, 250 present and former residents of Drew meet at the ball park pavilion to visit with their neighbours while enjoying good food and good music. The Drew Community Centre Board organizes and prepares for this with the proceeds going toward hydro and maintenance costs for the park. This event has become a ‘must go’ occasion for many who have a connection to the little community of Drew.
In conclusion, if you want to see how a real volunteer-based community works, just pay a visit to the Drew Community Centre!