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More volunteers needed

Let’s hope that some of these programs requiring students to do some type of community service work as designed, because we just don’t have the volunteers – for just about every cause – that we once had.

Maybe these young people can see the value of volunteering their time and continue the practice into adulthood. We need them, because we sure aren’t getting the job done these days.

Ask any volunteer fire department chief if they have enough volunteers. Almost all will say no. That is perhaps our most critical need for volunteers, and while rewarding, being a volunteer firefighter is no walk in the park. They have to be trained. They have to have equipment. They have to be re-trained. Equipment must be maintained. It all adds up to a lot of hours, hours most don’t want to spend away from their families.

Ask any club president – Lions Club, Civitan, you name it – and they will tell you that the average age of a club member keeps getting older and older. As we age, well, we don’t always have the energy or abilities we had as youngsters. We can be productive volunteers, but without young people, a club’s days are numbered.

Look at community events such as the Center Fair last weekend. Great events, great fun and great food – put on by mostly an older group of  volunteers. They won’t be here forever folks, so some of you younger ones, I’m talking under age 50 here, need to step up to the plate. We like looking at big watermelons and eating barbecue, so keep the tradition alive.

Our schools do a good job of coordinating volunteers of all ages, but I’m sure even with that success, that they could do so much more if more volunteers were available.

The list of agencies and clubs and groups that need good, working volunteers goes on and on. Although it may seem daunting looking at all of the possibilities, there’s a volunteer opportunity in there somewhere for each of us.

Like baseball? Volunteer to coach a youth team.

Like gardening? Volunteer to teach young people how to enjoy the rewards of planting and harvesting. Volunteer at a community garden that helps feed others who do not have direct access to fresh food.

Like reading? Volunteer to teach someone else that love of a good story.

Like the idea of making your community a better place? Volunteer. Deliver a meal and a smile to an elderly person confined to their home. Be an advocate for a child who has noone else to speak on their behalf.

I’m guilty myself of not doing enough. Sure, I’ve volunteered for a few causes over the years and still do a tiny bit in a community garden, but I could do more. We all could.

One idea for the schools and others who require young people to do community service is to change the name. I told someone the other day I was going to do some community service work, and they thought I had been arrested and ordered by the court to perform that service. It was a baited statement, but shows the negative thoughts that sometimes come with the words community service.

It’s volunteering. And the more we do, the better off our community will become. So pick a group, jump in and start using your skills to help someone else. You’ll find that it helps you just as much or more.

– Mike Barnhardt