"We've had wellness fairs, we've had business showcases, we've had many different types of fairs," Bob Dalby said, "but I'd never heard of a spotlight being put on the organizations which make Payson such a caring community."
That is, until now.
The Rim Country Care Fair has been designed by Dalby and other Payson citizens to fill that void. The first edition of what may well become an annual event is set to unfold Saturday evening at Payson's Mormon Church, which is sponsoring the event.
Although the fair was planned prior to the nation's Sept. 11 tragedy, Dalby said, "There's a lot of people out there saying, 'How can I help? I really want to do something.' Well, here's your answer."
The local organizations which have committed themselves to the event "are made up of volunteers in many different avenues, providing benevolent and humanitarian services to our area," Dalby, chairman of the fair's steering committee, said
"Those groups want to tell the town about what they do and to sign up additional volunteers to further their cause. That's a reason for everyone to attend this care fair: to see what you can do to help and to make a smart choice."
By no small coincidence, the Town of Payson has proclaimed the week of Oct. 22 to 27 as Payson Humanitarian Services Recognition Week. That may partially explain why, as of yesterday (Monday) afternoon, 29 different organizations had signed up to participate, and others were expressing interest.
For attendees, what this means is that there will be a broad spectrum of volunteer work from which to choose.
"Big Brothers and Big Sisters has just come to town," Dalby said. "Boy Scouts of America is looking for adult leaders. Habitat for Humanity is looking for people to pound nails. The local service organizations such as the Kiwanis, the Lions, the Rotary Club, the Rim Country Optimists, the Rim Country Literacy Program, St. Vincent dePaul's Food Bank, Veterans helping veterans are always looking for new people. Search and Rescue is much-needed and always on the lookout for more volunteers."
Also manning booths and recruiting folks will be organizations not so familiar to locals.
"There's one group called Telephone Pioneers, which provides childrens' educational materials and paints maps on the playgrounds of schools," Dalby said. "That's one I'd never heard of before."
While everyone would agree that the value of Payson's benevolent organizations is high, not everyone is aware of the degree to which they contribute to the community.
"The dollars and scholarships they provide is unbelievable," Dalby said. 'I just found out that the Lion's Club gave enough money to Habitat for Humanity to build a house.
"The Kiwanis provided the money to put the backstops in (on the new softball field) at Rumsey Park. And if it weren't for Library Friends planting the seed and pushing the idea and raising money, we wouldn't have a new library about to open in Payson."
The response of these and similar organizations to the care-fair concept has been "overwhelming," Dalby said. "I was not only pleased, I was amazed. When we started this, my feeling was that we'd be a success if we could get 20 organizations to sign up. Well, here we are with 30, with 5 days still to go."
The booth spaces are "pretty much filled ... If any more people want to come in, we will try to accommodate them, but it's going to be difficult."
The Mormon Church, which is sponsoring the event, will offer free refreshments. Also, entertainment will be provided by the Payson High School Modern Choir at 5 p.m., the Bell Choir at 6 p.m., and the Payson Community Choir at 7 p.m.
"Adults will be interested, and so will youths aged 14 and up, because they are the future leaders of our country," Dalby said. "But the younger kids should stay home and enjoy their childhood."
The Rim Country Care Fair is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mormon Church, at the intersection of Aero Drive and Ponderosa Street in Payson.
For more information, call Dalby at 472-7979.