Keeping volunteerism alive

It seems to me that we have gone straight from winter into summer, as we reach the month of June, which has arrived with alarming speed in my eyes.  I have officially been with Feather Publishing for a year now, and when I first took this position, I had no idea how much I was going to learn as I got to know the Eastern Plumas community, and how very invested in the community I would become in an organic way.

Most of the events and activities that take place in our neck of the woods are volunteer-operated and from the amount of events that I have been able to share with the community on a weekly basis for the past year, I quickly began to realize how very many hours are donated by hardworking, civic-minded locals to benefit the entire community.

I don’t want to attempt to list them here for fear of leaving someone out or possibly turning this into a census list, but it seems to me that nearly everyone I come into contact with through work and play in Eastern Plumas County holds a regular job in addition to volunteering on multiple boards and with multiple organizations, doing their best to contribute to the future of Eastern Plumas County.

This community spirit of civic-mindedness is inspiring to behold and the more that I report about the good work of my neighbors (because we’re all basically neighbors in this small of a community, right?) the more I feel the urge to pitch in with what skills and time that I have to offer.

As I have discussed this with a variety of volunteers in the community, the feedback that I have received has centered on one major concern — that with the majority of the current local volunteer population aging, people are starting to wonder when the next generation of volunteers will phase in and pick up the torch.

I’ve been told that most people these days just don’t have the time, between raising families, work and the simple fact that most of the families in our current financial climate have to have a dual-income household just to get by and keep the bills paid.

I understand that, but I also wonder if perhaps my generation is just a little slow on the uptake with the importance of giving personal time to events and organizations they care about and giving back to the community. Volunteers create the community, and the community is going to reflect the amount of effort and care put into it.

When I see young people getting involved and tapping into their altruistic side, I couldn’t be happier. By nature, getting involved in a project grows a vested interest in the volunteer and the involvement is contagious. It’s something that I would love to see spread as high school students prepare to graduate and have free time on their hands for the summer.

A major part of getting the younger generation involved is the direction and guidance of those that are old hands at keeping the wheels of the community turning on schedule.

Yet again, I have to extend admiration to those that not only give their time to causes that they love and believe in, but make extra time to share that passion as well as skill sets with incoming volunteers as mentors.

I personally haven’t had any one single mentor in my time here thus far. I say this because truly, I have had and will continue to have more mentors than I can count in my daily life. I am so grateful for the many members of the local community that have made time to share their passions, skills, ideas, plans and hard work with me and I hope you all know how much you are appreciated for the work you do.

There is a vast wealth of knowledge, experience, wisdom and advice to be had in our local volunteers and the best advice I could give to anyone would be to reach out. Get involved. Take a chance, risk being the youngest person on the committee! We’re all in this together, and there is something for everyone to do regardless of skill level.

I don’t think I have yet to write a single My Turn without finding an applicable quote that fits my thought process, and this one will be no different. A Greek proverb comes to mind, which says, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

This week, I would like to thank all of those that have planted those proverbial trees in our community and I look with hope to the next generation, because I know that if we all come together in our planting, the potential of the future is limitless.