{OPED} Volunteers: Thank you all

MEEKER | Meeker’s July 4 myriad of activities reminded me of the astounding number of volunteers who make this holiday special. Just think of the veterans who marched with our nation’s flags, the creators and drivers of floats, musicians, the ever fun can-can dancers and that’s just a sample of volunteering at the parade.

Members of our many charitable organizations work extremely hard to provide breakfasts, lunches, pies, drinks and many other services during Range Call. Many of these good works are returned to our community with scholarships to our local youth and financial support to non-profit organizations.

Along with those who freely volunteer, there are also many city/county/retail employees who work long or weird hours to make this holiday safe and fun. Yes, they are paid, but also work extra hard to make our town look great, provide much needed amenities such as food and security, and safely set off those awesome fireworks.

Did you know our firefighters were up at 5:30 a.m. on July 4 washing down Main Street? Yup! Their goal is to assure that children picking up candy from the parade don’t also gather up trash. Their day ends at cemetery hill around sunset providing safety for the fireworks. And, they are on call all day should an emergency arise.

My husband and I chatted with the firefighters during the pancake breakfast and it was fascinating to learn how they select the fireworks and all the early planning involved. Yes, it is a lot of work; yes, they get paid (and there are also many volunteer firefighters who roll out as needed); but most of all they are proud and happy to serve our community.

I salute them and all those who give of their time/talents to make our holiday special. I have worked on many holidays and it is not very joyous to watch everyone else celebrating and relaxing while you are working your butt off and missing time with your family.

Every day, not just July 4th, Meeker thrives on volunteers. Our churches, our service organizations, and individuals support those in need. Bereaved families receive food from Meeker’s awesome cooks. Folks at the Wing get visitors, music, and birthday parties. Our youth benefit from volunteers who support their activities and many receive scholarships. The roll call of volunteering is nearly endless and thrives on individuals’ willingness to give of their time and talents.

So, a few thoughts about the volunteer process:

Organizations:

Be very clear if the job is a one-time versus re-occurring event that means a long-term commitment. (ongoing meetings for example)

Define the parameters. How many hours? Physical challenges? Preparation required?

Don’t take advantage of people (especially those who continue to contribute more than their share) and do not assume because someone has done the job before, s/he is willing to do it again.

Express your thanks. Public recognition, a handwritten note, or a phone call are simple and inexpensive ways to say thanks to your volunteers.

Volunteers:

Ask questions if the request is unclear. Find out what you are getting into. If you have limitations, speak up early.

Show up as promised; be responsible. If you said yes, you said yes.

If emergencies occur and you can’t show, give notice as early as possible and explain why.

Don’t slack. Some one and perhaps the community is depending on you. Be ready and be there.

Most of all, let us be very thankful for a community that can take great pride in hosting many events that depend on volunteers. A hearty thanks you to everyone who contributes in any way.

 

By KAYE SULLIVAN | Special to the Herald Times

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