No. 361

In our neck of the woods, there is not a day that goes by when our local newspaper does not carry several articles and photographs that tell about the many “volunteers” who work to make our community a better place to live. I bet the same is true where you live. The United States Of America would not be the dominant military and economic power in the world today were it not for the millions of volunteers, past and present, who have given unselfishly to meet a multitude of human needs. These are the people who have indeed learned that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.”
Several months ago, I wrote a column titled, “A Clarion Call To All Americans” and talked about the need for and spirit of “volunteerism” and invited my readers to let me know about organizations whose goal it is to make life better for their fellowman. One of the many people who wrote me was Margaret H. Cannon, who is a faithful reader of my column in the Lenoir News-Topic, published in Lenoir, North Carolina. Margaret told me about a wonderful service organization she is involved in; (Governor-Elect of District Three) called Altrusa International.
Altrusa is divided into districts and each district is made up of clubs that functions at the local level. We have an Altrusa Club here in our community.
Each club has the flexibility of choosing local projects they wish to pursue. Local club members donate many hours working with children in their local schools or assist in working with adults at community colleges. Many of their clubs sponsors scholarships both to high school graduates or adults who want to further their education. Some other projects that clubs work on are environmental projects, working with Soup Kitchens, Hospices, Shelter for Battered Women and many others. One of the largest local club projects was when the Gainesville, FL club raised over $500,000.00 to build an assisted living center.
When I told Margaret that I felt sure that my readers would want to know more about this fine organization, she put me in touch with Mr. John Lord, Executive Director of Altrusa International, with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. John was very helpful and when I asked him to respond to the question, “What would you like for more of the American people to know about your organization?” he stated, “Altrusa International is the first service organization for women. Founded in 1917, at a time when women did not have any opportunities to serve in the ways that men did through male service organizations, Altrusa remains relevant today. Back in those days women were often discouraged from taking their place as community leaders. (My comment: How times have changed, and changed for the better.)
Since our founding we have provided countless women, men and children with opportunities to improve their lives. Our 13,000 volunteers are in hundreds of communities in 20 countries throughout the world, working to serve their communities. Our main charitable focus is literacy, supporting libraries, literacy training, higher education, book-purchasing for children who have never owned a book of their own and a whole host of projects, (like those Margaret H. Cannon told me about) at the local level.
For years participation in volunteer service organizations has been on the decline, due to demographic changes and “time-famine” among people who would love to lend a hand, but may not necessarily have the time to participate in an organization. Altrusa is sensitive to this and provides many opportunities to make a difference without requiring a huge time commitment. There may already be an Altrusa Club in your community that you can join, if not, we can tell you how to go about starting one.” e-mail . HYPERLINK or visit their web site at . HYPERLINK (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)