The legacy of town service
In the most recent Kiwanis International Magazine there is an article about service. The author, Charles Downey, writes that some parents bequeath wealth, some adults hand down heirlooms and that some families pass on the qualities of goodness, generosity and compassion.
I had been thinking about writing a column about service and volunteerism for several weeks now, and several instances recently have brought the idea of community service to the surface.
I had the wonderful opportunity to take pictures and cover the story of the prom at Castle Valley Center two weeks ago and watch young volunteers in action. I was so proud of the 42 young people from East Carbon and Carbon High Schools as they pinned on corsages and boutonnieres, helped with the gowns and suits, escorted other young men and women into the gym. It was one of the most refreshing examples of community service I have seen in a long time.
Then this past week I had a long visit with a former president of the Kiwanis club. John Craven and I talked about the club back in the 1960's when it had well over 75 active members. I have been active in community organizations like Kiwanis, Lion's, Rotary and Jaycees since I was in college and over the years I have seen all of their memberships deteriorate and dwindle. It seems that many of the community service clubs have only a handful of members still trying to accomplish the same projects and goals as they have in the past.
I have seen so much compassion and love passed on through community clubs over the years. With a guide dog at his side, I remember a young man in Montana, newly blinded, embracing life with independence and dignity. And somebody, somewhere, trained and socialized that frisky puppy into an extremely well-behaved and well-mannered animal.
In another instance when cancer treatments caused her hair to fall out, a five-year old patient felt as though she stuck out like a sore thumb. Then, nine other children cut their hair to make a wig for her.
Along the coast where I used to live, ocean beaches and mountain trails, once littered, are clean and safe because children and their parents picked up the trash.
These three examples have a common thread. They occurred because entire families - moms, dads and children - found service needs and did something about them.
One of the landmark characteristics of the World War II generation was and is its commitment in doing community service and other good works for the community. That's because helping others is a part of life.
Unfortunately, the men and women of that era are passing from the scene. So, where is new inspiration for kindness and generosity? Will people gradually quit doing gracious deeds be cause there are no more role models?
But what is becoming likely is that more Kiwanians, Lion's, Soroptimists, Rotarians, Jaycees are including their children in service projects.
In addition, more and more of these groups are tying in high school and college groups and letting the younger generations experience the thrill and satisfaction of performing selfless acts.
I think parents, teachers, church officials and community leaders, should be role models to children and young people when it comes to service.
It's everyone's responsibility and if everybody integrated service more into daily life, it wouldn't be a big thing to give up an extra dollar or an hour of time to see someone else enjoy the rewards.