Next week is National Volunteer Week

Next week is National Volunteer Week

4 20 17

The Issue: The work of volunteers is often taken for granted.

Our View: Volunteerism is, perhaps, this country’s greatest resource.

Everyday, in every community, someone volunteers to do something. More than 50 percent of Americans volunteer in one capacity or another each year. While some do so publicly, donating their time through some community or church organization, other volunteers are less obvious. These are the people who quietly help an elderly neighbor or pick up debris from the side of a country road. No matter the capacity in which one volunteers, National Volunteer Week, April 23-29, is an opportunity to express thanks and appreciation to those who give their time and talents where they are needed.

Volunteerism is woven into the fabric of this country. It’s doubtful this country would be as successful as it is without the contribution of those in our history who stepped up and did what needed to be done. Progress is made through action and a passion to make improvements in a community or in the lives of individuals unable to help themselves.

Occasionally, one hears of attempts to make volunteerism a requirement, which, of course, is an oxymoron. Volunteers act on their own urge to help, which creates a sense of gratitude among those being helped and, hopefully, compels them to help others in return. When volunteering is mandated, it can create an atmosphere of resentment on both sides. People cannot be paid to care.

We believe the decision to volunteer helps define one’s character and those who do so are rarely in it for any recognition or appreciation. They do it to fulfill a need. Sometimes it’s the need of someone else; other times it’s a need within the volunteer.

Left to our own devices, we Americans tend to do what needs to be done. We plan, we organize and we raise the necessary funds to meet the goal. There’s an inherent understanding that we humans are interdependent on one another. This knowledge is the basis of society. It’s the basis of capitalism. In order for a community to thrive, it must do so at all levels. The businesses, churches, organizations, families and individuals must all have their needs met. While most can afford to pay or work their way through life, there are gaps. This gap is often filed by volunteers, which makes them a critical part of any community.

Think about it. Volunteers are a part of many things we take for granted. Without volunteers, there would be no little league. Volunteer parent coaches are the backbone of nearly all youth athletics. The purpose of community organizations such as Rotary, Lions, Elks, Moose and Masons is to help where they can. Volunteers fill in where professionals often are not able. They nurture babies in hospital nurseries. They sit with the sick and give comfort and company to the elderly. They feed and shelter the homeless. They let those in need know they are not forgotten.

The corps of volunteers in this country are often overlooked, and their efforts may not be taken as seriously as those who do the same for a paycheck, but make no mistake, this would be a different nation without them. Volunteers are as valuable and as necessary as any natural resource.