Thursday, July 16, 2009

Editorial: Leading by Example and Inspiration

They come in all shapes and sizes, spanning every generation and every socio-economic background. They come from every religious persuasion, every race. They are men, women, children, seniors. They are students, professionals, retirees. They are undoubtedly one of the most diverse groups in today’s society. They are united by common denominators which account for their extraordinary contributions—heart and soul. And despite their remarkable differences they are all known by the same name—volunteers.

This unique assemblage of humanitarians devotes their time and efforts to a range of projects as diversified as their own backgrounds. Some lend a hand or an ear to elderly people while others give their time to care for those who are sick or perhaps just lonely. Some give their time to clerical duties for large charitable organizations, while others offer a range of pro-bono services from accounting to medical assistance to legal advice and everything in between.

Whatever they do, the American volunteer force is one of the most valuable natural resources we are blessed with. And although pictures are worth a thousand words, we can conjure up an image of volunteers without a photo; caring, compassion, generosity, understanding, empathy and kindness. Combine that with skill, energy, devotion and patience and you have a very clear picture of these national treasures.

We commend these cherished volunteers who “Inspire by Example,” and we applaud the recognition bestowed upon them at this weeks MLB All-Star game. After President Obama threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the game he was joined by all four living former presidents in a video salute to volunteers, the “All-Stars Among Us”.

The occasion marked the first time all of the living presidents participated in any sporting-event ceremony. The video messages were part of a pregame salute of 30 men and women -- each representing one of the MLB franchises -- chosen by MLB and People magazine for their community service.

In following the example set by our presidents past and present, we should all remember to offer praise to volunteers. Their jobs are done twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, on three hundred and sixty five days a year. In fact, every minute of every single day there are volunteers giving freely of themselves, sharing their resources and talents.

We should celebrate the magnitude of their contributions and the difference they make in so many lives on a daily basis. We must never forget to acknowledge the importance of the work volunteers do and hope that the millions of volunteers will be joined by many others like them; sharing, unselfishly and without gain, their wealth of talents with the rest of us.

Perhaps the best understanding of volunteers is expressed in the words of author Sherry Anderson: Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.

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