Two front-page stories caught my eye this week for different reasons.
Wednesday’s Clinton Herald showcased how the United Way is looking to raise $650,000 to help the community. On the same page, situated next to the story, was a plea for more volunteers to make sure city government runs smoothly in Fulton, Illinois.
Two different stories driven by the same mechanism — volunteers.
Fulton wouldn’t be the first community to struggle to find people lining up for boards and commissions inside city government. The city of Clinton regularly struggles to find willing and different volunteers, and we just witnessed area school board elections with barely enough people to fill open seats.
On the other hand, we have other area organizations with a more robust list of volunteers, much like United Way. I’m sure there are struggles with the United Way, much like other organizations that can fill a volunteer roster fairly efficiently, but for the most part, those are the ones surviving in an area desperate for more involvement.
Just this week, we reported the annual Beggar’s Walk wouldn’t happen this year at Heritage Canyon, not just because of the flooding remnants, but because of a lack of volunteers.
People who serve on area boards, commissions, non-profits or coach youth teams know the pressing issues of finding volunteers. It’s almost impossible to find reliable, consistent people to serve.
A lot of that struggle is thanks to our fast-paced lives. My calendar rarely has a moment to breathe, let alone find time to volunteer. My wife and I do some volunteering, but it’s not at the level that we desire. And I’m sure many people in the community feel the same way.
Unfortunately, it’s gotten to the point where I expect groups to struggle with finding volunteers. A new reporter just started with us and she was wondering why there was an issue with finding people to serve on these boards. I shrugged my shoulders and pretty much brushed it aside like it was par for the course.
I shouldn’t have that reaction. As a community, we should do better, even if the difficulties are there.
There are so many opportunities to get involved. Even the groups that look to be some of the strongest still need support from the community.
Two weeks from today, we’re highlighting vision and volunteerism in our final Progress edition. Those who get involved should be commended for giving up their time, money and energy in making this community a better place.
And those who are currently active in volunteering shouldn’t be shy about reaching out to others for help. Oftentimes, people don’t know where to turn and are too nervous to get out of their comfort zone by joining an already established group. You’d be surprised how hard it is to say no if asked to do something.
For those unsure of how to go about volunteering and getting involved, find something you’re passionate about and reach out to community members. The Herald is full of information on different non-profits and we can generally steer you in the right direction.
Whether it’s constant service or a day here or there, every minute counts in making this community a better place to live.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @ScottLevineCH on Twitter.