Advocating for Service
I remember having a conversation with my dad one afternoon. I was maybe nine or ten, in grade school for sure. We were sitting in his yellow Ford, and I believe we had just picked up some seed or something and were headed back to the farm. I can’t remember the context of the conversation, but I’ll never forget these words:
“You’ve been given a free country in which to live and a free education,” he told me. “It’s your responsibility to give back.”
I took his words to heart.
I have always found ways to serve my community. In high school and college, I was involved in every club or organization I could join as a way to stay connected in the community. That dedication has continued in the intervening years. I’ve spent the last few decades working with my children and their passions – I was the band mom, 4H mom, FFA Mom, basketball, volleyball, softball mom – all the things. But once they left home and found their own callings, I had to find new ways to serve.
As it worked out, the youngest graduated from high school in 2020, so I dove headfirst into COVID relief efforts. From there, I got involved in the youth center project and the public transportation project and even a run for the state legislature. All as a way to give back to a community that has given me so much.
I’m grateful to say people noticed.
I was recognized as a community hero by the South-Central District Health Department in 2020 and as Idaho’s Volunteer of the year in 2021
The governor appointed me to Serve Idaho, the commission on service and volunteerism.
That work has become some of my most favorite endeavors. We look for ways to encourage and reward philanthropy and volunteerism and also celebrate national service programs under the AmeriCorps umbrella.
In the coming months, I’ll be launching a challenge through my blog. I believe that everyone should give a minimum of one hour a month. Honestly, I think people should give one hour a week. The bottom line is I think all of our lives are enriched when people give back to their communities as much as they can.
My dad’s been gone for a while now. He left me with lots of memories and traditions to uphold, giving back some time as a way of saying thank you for the opportunities I've been given seems to be the best way to celebrate his legacy.