Volunteers, take bow, it’s your week

I’ve always liked the old adage that if you really need to have something done, ask someone who’s busy. The idea being they are the ones who know how to get things done and aren’t afraid to jump in and get to work.

I thought of that saying earlier this week after seeing a note that this is National Volunteer Week. Looking to learn a little more, I did the usual Internet search. A couple of different sites used similar verbiage in describing the intentions of the special week: “National Volunteer Week celebrates ordinary people doing extraordinary things to improve communities across the nation.”

I’m sure it wouldn’t take any of us too much time to think of ways volunteers have helped us. Or that volunteering made us feel better about ourselves.

Let me try by looking back at the last couple of weeks. I attended a major school fundraiser — staffed by volunteers. I helped pick up roadside trash on the highway with a group of Boy Scouts. I watched a club volleyball tournament that my niece was involved in — staffed and coached by volunteers. I read an article on the front page of the paper about kids learning and having fun at the Prairie Loft Center. Sure, some of the people are employees there, but events like last weekend don’t happen without volunteers. I ate Girl Scout cookies; we wouldn’t have those without volunteers to help lead the groups.

See, you can work volunteerism into just about anything.

Like many of us, much of my volunteer work over the years resulted from being a parent. As the kids grow older, there are soccer teams to be coached (and baseball and basketball and, well, you get the point).

There are school activities. Oh, sure, while you’re freezing on playground duty in January, it’s easy to claim you were “volun-told” to do it, but, deep inside, you know you want to be there. Right?

That can start in kindergarten and lead all the way until you’re dealing card games at the post-graduation party. All done by volunteers.

There was a time while involved with one school group that we were trying to recruit new members to the committee. One reason you get now and then from people resisting the urge to volunteer is that “it will ruin my social life.”

Well, I must be a pretty boring guy, because for a time there it seemed that for my wife and I volunteering at school activities WAS our social life. I say that with a smile, though, as we were having a good time. And making friendships that will last long after the work is done, all because of volunteering.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I trying to make myself out to be Vinnie the Volunteer. I’ve probably turned down more volunteer work than I’ve accepted, which is why the Scouts are camping out without me this weekend.

But, by and large, once people realize you know how to say “yes,” you should have plenty of opportunities. And I’ve heard stories of the great works done by many people that make my volunteer time look like nothing. No matter your interest, there’s likely something right at your finger tips you can be doing as a volunteer.

And even if there isn’t, take a look around. I’m betting you’ll be somewhere within the next week or so that wouldn’t be happening without the support of volunteers. Take just a second to say, “Thanks for volunteering your time.”

Time, treasure and talent. They’re the three things we all are called upon to share at some time. Time and talent are the two easy ones to volunteer away if you just find the chance.

So, for all of you out there who have spent even just an hour of this past year in a volunteer capacity, take a bow. This is your week.

And take a breath to relax just a little bit. Because even if you feel like you’re getting caught up with everything you’ve needed to do, you know the phone’s going to ring soon.

And someone will be saying, “I was wondering if you had time to …”

Russ Batenhorst

Don't expect to detect a common topic or theme in Russ Batenhorst's weekly column in the Hastings Tribune. Usually it's whatever slice-of-life observation pops into his head just in time to make the deadline for it to appear each Friday.

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