The first person who figures out how to bottle individual initiative will make millions. Of course, it's impossible to do. But I always marvel at the inspiration of people who demonstrate initiative.

People with individual initiative are the ones with a burning passion to accomplish. They go places and do things.

They take an interest in something, anything, and they go on to excel. They're the Thomas Edisons of our day, the go-getters, the innovators. They're everyday people who do good.

Those thoughts went through my mind during the month of December.

I felt inspired by the uplifting stories and photos in the daily paper. Stories of accomplishment seemed to outweigh the stories of misfortune in each day's edition of the TIMES NEWS. A few of those upbeat stories were highlighted in the series called 'Ordinary people, extraordinary lives.' But there were plenty of other examples, as well.

For every story of a house fire or similar tragedy, there were reports of volunteers jumping at the chance to help. Those accounts underscore the idea of individual initiative, the sense of goodwill and the spirit of community. It's not something taught in high school or college. It's not taught in any school. Initiative is something that can't be taught.

It's intangible, yet real. Either it's there, or it's not.

There are plenty of examples: the woman who bakes pies for a church fundraiser, the schoolchildren walk to the nearby adult day care center to help spread cheer, the firefighters who spend a Saturday in training to sharpen skills, youngsters and adults who spend a day picking up litter along the roadway, or the members of Rotary, Lions, Elks, Odd Fellows, sorority, Meals on Wheels and other groups. The list goes on and on.

Seeing those folks in action is an inspiration. They're people I admire. Even more, I'm always interested in learning about their motivation, what makes them tick.

Others might be more intrigued by sports figures, such as dog killer Michael Vick or adulterer Tiger Woods. I suppose those characters have individual initiative, too. But it's apparently misguided. I'm not sure why some of the rich and famous lack character. But I'd rather spend my time learning about what makes people good, not what makes people bad.

Thank goodness for those who know how to channel their energy wisely. We can never get enough of folks who know how to apply skills in a constructive way. Those persons make the world a better place.

After all, there's nothing more inspiring than seeing somebody take the initiative to help others. The gestures, whether large or small, provide the foundation for the quality of life we enjoy in our comfortable small towns.

My New Year's resolution is to focus as much as I can on the gift of individual initiative and to be thankful for the friends and neighbors who demonstrate it. Their spirit of human kinship makes life worth living.

My heroes aren't a Florida golfer or a Philadelphia football player. I'm not particularly interested in knowing how many dozens of women comprise Tiger's harem. And I don't care to learn anything else about a sports star who entertained himself by killing dogs. Heroes don't need to hit a ball far and I don't need to look far to find heroes.

The people I admire most live right here.