My deepest apologies – I have almost let National Volunteer Week slip by!  The observance began on the 10th of April through April 16th.  Hopefully, you were already aware of this special time that is set aside to recognize those who give their time and service to various good causes in their communities.  According to FEMA Regional Administrator, Ken Murphy, National Volunteer Week is all about inspiring, recognizing, and encouraging people to check out imaginative ways to engage in their communities.  This year’s theme in the United States is “Inspire By Example.”  Canada is also observing their National Volunteer Week during this week, with the theme, “Volunteers: Passion. Action. Impact.” 

It would be hard to find the proper words to express the debt we owe those persons who do various kinds of volunteer work, and the many who volunteer for duties at more than one place.  In the case of FEMA, their concern is knowing that there will be volunteers to plan for disasters, plan for elderly, those who do not have transportation, and others that may not be prepared for storms, floods, or worse.  We have seen numerous earthquakes, floods, and tornadoes this year, and in each case, volunteers have rushed to rescue the stranded, and start the recovery process.  Wildfires have been rampant in several parts of Texas; professional firefighters would be in a terrible fix if it were not for the area volunteer fire departments that do all they can to join them in order to save land, homes, and animals for property owners.  

The next time you enter a hospital, nursing home, school, shelter, or similar facility, look around, and you will most likely see a volunteer.  It may be a person simply reading to an elderly person in a nursing home, filing in a hospital office, helping a teacher in the classroom, or serving food in a shelter.  Persons who deliver food to the elderly or disabled contribute a very valuable service.

How about young parents, who volunteer to coach baseball, football, soccer, or other sports for the children?  Positions on most school boards and hospital boards are unpaid.  Those folks give not only their time for meetings, but have to take phone calls from concerned citizens much of the time.  Hotlines also require volunteers to be ready to answer questions and guidance. 

I am sure I have overlooked many other aspects of volunteerism.  I only know that it is important that we help others by giving back.  I served as President of our hospital volunteers, a group of dedicated workers that got along very well and raised a lot of money for equipment for the hospital.  We had fun, and I got to know some of the best people in the world, that I probably would never have known had it not been for belonging to that group.  There are so many ways to serve, and I hope you will look for your place.  Believe me, you will be paid back in ways you can’t imagine. 

May 7th is “Join Hands Day,” which is established to promote youth and adults volunteering together to improve their communities.  We need to work with our young people.  There’s no better way to inspire each other than by working together for a good cause.  Finally, thank you to all who serve!