From My Window
Thank God For Volunteers
By Jane Thibodeau Martin,
Every week I read all the obituaries in the Tulsa daily paper, and all of them in the Peshtigo Times. I usually don't know the people who died, but I find it fascinating to see how their lives get summed up in a few paragraphs at the time of their deaths.
Recently, I was reading an obituary about a woman who was obviously very professionally accomplished and also a dedicated wife and mother " that was clear from details included. But what struck me about her obituary, to the point I went back in an hour and read it again, was the astonishing amount of volunteer work this woman had done.
She was a docent at a local museum, worked with an adult literacy program, delivered meals for Meals on Wheels, served as an "ambassador" at the information desk at the Tulsa airport assisting travelers, held numerous positions at her church, and the list went on and on.
I just can't imagine what our lives would be like without all the people who volunteer their time. It's the little kid's sports program coaches, people who work with veterans, those who serve as a "Big Brother or Big Sister" to a single parent child in need of attention and mentoring, adopting children, teaching English to immigrants, and pick up trash in their neighborhoods. They lead Boy and Girl Scout troops, teach Sunday school, build houses for Habitat for Humanity, care for abandoned dogs and cats, and rescue neglected horses. Without them, there would be no "Taps" at the funerals of veterans, no wonderful lunch for bereaved families following a funeral at church, and children in foster care or shelters would go without Christmas gifts. My own family benefitted during my father's last months when a respite volunteer would come to stay with Dad while my Mom went to a doctor's appointment or some other errand.
If you just stop and think for a minute, I'll bet you know several of these people, true heroes, who make our lives and our country better. If we could measure the economic and human impact of their efforts, it would be truly astounding. This impact is clearly visible in many venues, but in my home state of Oklahoma, where the funding crisis in our schools is extreme, the volunteers in our schools are one of the few bright spots left in education.
What a wonderful gift these volunteers are giving " their time, their talent and in some cases their treasure, to make life a little better. Instead of sitting around whining about how awful things are, they pick a cause or two, roll up their sleeves, and dig in.
The woman who was the inspiration for this column was no doubt grieved by people way beyond her immediate family. She will be remembered for the legacy of giving and caring by countless people whose lives she touched.
As I celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, I will be giving thanks for all these people. They are truly making this country of ours even better than it already is. (If you are sinking in the quagmire of controversy in our political situation, and question the greatness of our country, just contemplate living in Syria, war torn and weary; North Korea where individual freedoms are almost non-existent; or some of the other countries we read about in the news.)
If you look for volunteers on the Fourth of July you will find them making your holiday celebration better " they are organizing or participating in parades, sponsoring fireworks, or on call for the volunteer fire departments who will be called on to respond to emergencies on the holiday.
Happy Fourth of July to all of the people who volunteer, I respect and admire you.
You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.
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