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Volunteers: Sadly, they're a rare breed

Published May 19. 2012 09:01AM

A good volunteer is rarer to find today than a two dollar bill.

People describe the eighties as the "Me Decade", but 30 years ago in the midst of all that so-called self-centeredness volunteerism was still widespread especially compared to today's sad trend. I've heard the excuses several times. "We are too busy" or "we just can't make it" or even worse "we will be there" and then never appearing on the scene.

Credibility seems to be as important to most people today as the mythical spare tire in the trunk. By the way, that is another rare sighting in today's world.

There is no excuse for not volunteering your time to some cause or group that is working to make your life a little more pleasant. "We are too busy" is a sad excuse. No one is that busy that they cannot volunteer some time in at least one service organization or group. The excuse does not hold water. We are all busy people, yet somehow some of us manage to help with the historical society or the local recreation commission or community improvement group.

Everyone is so quick to spout ideas but most are not as quick to actually do the work. It is especially frustrating when not only is a group unable to get volunteers to help, but then when it comes time to support the group trying to provide a service no one shows up for the event that in the long run benefits them as well I would cite one organization but in all honesty this whole region is suffering from an apathy of not only pitching in to provide help, but more importantly too many are apathetic to even supporting something by just showing up at the event.

One group to which I belong is the Heritage Center in Summit Hill. We are a small volunteer group of seven people trying to provide a mission to the community by sponsoring events for families that meet cultural, educational and social needs. We have had lectures, magic shows, bands, polka music, oldies, rock music, tea parties, karaoke nights, open mike nights, craft shows and more. With the exception of two events most of those other 30 plus events attracted between 10 to 40 people. We describe what we do and people praise it, but that won't keep the doors open.

That is just one example. Talking with friends in other groups our situation is not alone. This is an anti-volunteer pandemic that stretches throughout the Times News region and further. People will criticize what a volunteer tries to do, they do not support the groups and then when the group fails and they lose a benefit which the group was providing then they have the gall to complain about how that inconvenienced them.

Fortunately there are those who remember that service to others is important to being a good citizen and they can be counted on to be there when they are needed. I work with the historical society and the Heritage Center. Also I am currently the President of the GAR Cemetery in Summit Hill.

The GAR has a dedicated group of volunteers. Every member of the board including business owners gives countless hours of time and talent toward improving the cemetery and bringing it back from the precipice it was on a few years ago. We have made strides because of the great but small core of volunteers we have to help clean the cemetery, cut brush, paint fences and do whatever is required to take care of that property. As president, I am so grateful to each and every volunteer who participates, but I will add that there could be many more.

It is with sadness though that I learned in the last week about the loss of one of our most dependable volunteers, Tom Davis of our community. Mr. Davis passed away unexpectedly last Saturday and he will be deeply missed. I would see him often. He helped at every clean up day we had. He would visit the cemetery practically every day and when I saw him he would let me know how things were. I grew up with his sons and he was also a close neighbor. He was always very friendly and kind. His loss will be felt by all those who received his volunteer services.

I want to close by offering my deepest condolences on behalf of the board and myself to Suzanne, his children and his family on their loss. He touched many lives and he will be sorely missed. Tom was the epitome of a volunteer and for that I deeply appreciate everything he did to help the town and cemetery to be successful.

Rest in peace, my friend.

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