No. 1227



One of the main reasons America has become the greatest nation in the history of the world is something we call volunteerism. This is simply people helping other people with no thought of personal gain.
Here in my later years one of my favorite sayings has become, “A community becomes great when its citizens plant trees whose shade they will never sit in.” For most of my life I have worked hard to earn enough money to meet our needs, and to save enough to have a little left over for a rainy day. With God’s help I have done that, and this just reinforces what I learned a long time ago -- I won’t take any of it with me.
When it comes to volunteering, here is something worth thinking about. A new federal study shows that volunteer service is a core American value that can help build bridges among Americans. The annual Volunteering and Civic Life in America research shows that 1 in 4 Americans volunteered through an organization and nearly two-thirds helped their neighbors last year, demonstrating that service to others continues to be a priority of millions of Americans. This year’s report found that 62.6 million (24.9 percent) volunteered through an organization last year.
Your fellow American citizens volunteered nearly 7.8 billion hours in 2015 worth an estimated $184 billion, based on the independent sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour. And here is something that will boggle your mind: Over the past 14 years Americans have volunteered 113 billion hours of service worth an estimated $2.3 trillion. As I said in the beginning, this is one of the main reasons our nation has become the greatest in the history of the world. When we have our literacy banquet and awards ceremony, I spend most of my time thanking those who are involved because they are all volunteers and receive no monetary compensation for what they do.
If you are a volunteer, or even if you are not, here is something I hope you will consider. Since we only have one life to live, my prayer is that each of us will give some serious consideration, or even pray about, how we are going to spend our time and what causes we believe will do the greatest amount of good. Certainly civic clubs like the Lions, Kiwanians, Rotarians, Optimists and others play a major role in our society, and each one is dedicated to helping others where there is a real need. We also need to do some research on the various organizations where we invest our time, to make sure the money raised, is actually going to those who need the services and not to line some executives’ pockets.
When we started our Bookcase for Every Child project back in 2005 we developed some specific guidelines for our project: that it would be all-volunteer (giving back), no one would receive any money for their involvement, we would target pre-school children from low-income families because they had the greatest need, and that we would be committee-led and not a 501C3 corporation. As I said, we are all giving back and do not accept tax money or grants of any kind. We have been very successful and have an annual banquet fundraiser where we earn more money each year that more than meets our needs. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer where people have real needs and when you think about future generations you are truly “planting trees whose shade you will never sit in.”
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)