You know what I’ve been thinking about?
This will come as no surprise to those of you who have followed this page for a while.
I have been thinking about volunteering.
Or, rather, the lack thereof.
It seems to be a lost art.
I know. Everyone is busy. Overwhelmed. People are working as hard as they can to make ends meet.
And… we’ve also built an economy on free and underpaid labor. (That’s a larger conversation for another day.)
I get it. I do.
At the same time, each of our communities benefit from dedicated volunteers.
From county fairs, to art festivals, to fun runs, volunteers make those events that bring us together happen.
But at some point, the volunteers need to do other things.
Case in point, a few weeks ago, a dedicated volunteer in a community near where I live, passed away suddenly. This man did the work of 10 people. He ran the chamber, helped with the historical society, organized a music festival and an arts event. He ran the sound for his church and other community events. He was the reason several of these activities have existed. He was dedicated and compassionate. He was a young man – just 42 years old. And then, he was gone.
At his funeral, the sound system stopped working. No one knew how to fix it. He’d been the one that ran the sound systems for every event.
Now that he’s gone, event committees are scrambling to finish his work for several upcoming events, but I fear most of his hard work will disappear. There are simply not enough volunteers to keep those projects alive. Those events bring us closer together as neighbors and communities. Events like a county fair or a music festival or a parade are good for local economies, make our communities more vibrant and diverse, and remind us all that we are connected – in a world where the opposite seems true.
What’s more, communities throughout the state and the country are struggling to fill seats on library boards, volunteer fire departments, and planning and zoning commissions, as well as all sorts of other committees. The lack of filled positions can cause delays in getting the work that needs to happen done. If you’re waiting on a building permit and it can’t get approved because the planning and zoning commission can’t get a quorum together, that’s an expensive delay. That's just one example.
One of the things I hear repeatedly is, “I’m not political. I don’t want to get involved.” Here’s the thing; you already are involved. If you pay your taxes, stop at a stop sign or use water, you’re involved in politics. The decisions about how much to pay, where to put a traffic sign, or how water is delivered are all made in some kind of committee. And that’s how democracy works –the people using democracy make the decisions. When people don’t stay involved, democracy doesn’t work. I think that's where we are now. Those of us in the middle have become too busy, disengaged, and frustrated. We throw our hands up and go do something else. That’s precisely the perfect climate for extremists to take over.
For the month of September and in honor of 9/11, the National Day of Service, I’m challenging my readers here and my listeners on my podcast to give one hour of their time to a cause they care about. Just one hour out of 30 days. My personal preference is one hour a week – so you can choose the commitment that works for you, but the minimum is one hour for the month. Find a non-profit organization, a church, a school, a political group or issue, and give one hour. Historical museums are fun. You do you. Then, let me know what you do, learn, see, and discover. You can message me or tag me in a post. Whatever works for you.
As busy and tired as we all are, if we don’t start giving back just a little of ourselves to our communities, the things that make our communities special, and, frankly, functional, go away. I think we can do better.
Can’t wait to hear from you.
What I am reading: Honestly, lately, just a lot of grant applications – because everyone’s short on funding .... and crochet patterns because while I learned to crochet as a child, I never learned how to read a pattern. However, stay tuned to my Patreon for the Adventures in Karmalot Book Club and Film Club. Details coming soon!
What I am listening to: Behind Gray Walls, a fascinating collection of stories from Idaho’s Old Penitentiary.