In 1989, George H.W. Bush during his inaugural address invoked the vision of a “thousand points of light” and invited the nation to take action through service to their fellow citizens. During his presidency, he distributed 1,020 Daily Points of Light Awards and placed volunteer service at the top of his agenda.
That spirit of volunteerism continues today through the President’s Volunteer Service Awards where last year 130,000 awards were distributed. Volunteering has always been a part of the American fabric dating back to Benjamin Franklin and the establishment of the first volunteer fire department in 1736.
Volunteerism within America crosses all political lines and such diverse individuals as Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart have connected in volunteer efforts. As part of the Points of Light yearly activities, Washington D.C. hosted a conference on volunteers and service June 19-22.
More than 5,000 people were expected to attend and promote volunteerism, showcasing the power of service to bring together divergent ideas and perspectives.
With our national attention on so many unpleasant issues at this time, this conference as well as our own Independence Day seemed like the perfect opportunity to refocus, maybe for only a moment, on what we do best in this country. The power to improve our communities does not just begin with the president or in places far from home. Volunteerism is demonstrated everyday by local agencies, organizations, churches, your neighbor, and quite possibly, even you.
Volunteering is a commitment, but a commitment that is based on what you can give. Perhaps you feel that you are stretched too thin and could not possibly make time in your day to volunteer. Volunteers are needed for variety of a things and your commitment can be tailored to meet your ability to give.
Maybe you are not willing to pick up a shovel and dig a garden; but you might be able to assist with developing an electronic link for a service organization.
Quite possibly, something as simple as dropping off a delivery for a service organization would be greatly appreciated. Or, you may only be able to volunteer for a few days a year. It doesn’t matter.
Until you have volunteered, you will never know that the service you provide becomes more satisfying to you than you would ever imagine. And, as research has shown, when volunteerism is high within a city or town the quality of life for the entire community improves.
So, take time to digest the information presented here and think about something you have always wanted do that may benefit an individual, a group, or a community. Then, take that next step and get involved. Volunteer. Who knows? The person who will benefit the most from your service may even be you.
Dorette L. Caldana
president and volunteer
Main Street Gardnerville