by Heidi L. Everett, editor
A good friend once said my husband and I have unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished in a lifetime. We took that as a compliment. The reality is, we rarely sit idle.
As an adult, I’ve always worked full-time outside the home while raising three kids and – up until recently – caring for a hobby farm. And, I’ve always volunteered in a variety of capacities in my kids’ schools and extracurriculars, with professional organizations, on local boards,and as part of the democratic process. My earliest memories of volunteering are from teaching Sunday school and working in the hospital as a Candy Striper when I was in high school.
Volunteering is just something I make time for, regardless of how busy I’ve been. Am I tired? Sometimes. But this busyness energizes me. More importantly, being a volunteer is an unparalleled opportunity to meet new people, to gain a broader and deeper understanding of the world that surrounds us and to influence positive change.
While covering the most recent local elections, I was struck by the fact nobody put their name on the ballot for mayor of St. Stephen (and kudos to Lisa Marvin for stepping up and rallying as a write-in candidate!). In some local races, incumbents who have spent decades on local councils were re-elected. Both of these situations suggest we are short on new folks making the time to be involved.
Now, I’m not suggesting everyone should run for office, although I have and cherish that experience of knocking on doors and meeting thousands of people. Our schools, places of worship, communities and governments have many volunteer opportunities.
If you can’t make a lot of time now, start small. When I was president of the PTA at Kennedy Community School, I was so grateful to the parents who volunteered to run Family BINGO Night. This happened once a year in February – usually what seemed like the coldest night of the year – and more than 300 students and their families would show up for a night of fun. We also had parents who volunteered two hours a year at our annual fundraiser. Were there parents who made more time? Absolutely. The point is, every volunteer made a difference.
If you are willing to make more time, identify and pursue what’s out there.
Right now, for instance, Stearns County is looking for residents to serve on a Stearns County board, committee or task force and is recruiting for appointments to be filled in January 2021. Openings exist on the Great River Regional Library Board, Stearns County HRA, Extension Committee, Human Services Advisory Committee and others.
The Board of Commissioners will also appoint individuals to serve on the Board of Adjustment, Feedlot Review Committee, Planning Commission, Park Commission and the Community Corrections Advisory Board. You can view openings and apply online by Dec. 1 at the Stearns County website. I encourage you to check these out.
To be honest, if I didn’t make time to be involved, I’d likely spend far too much time sitting on the couch, eating nachos and binge-watching Netflix in my jammies. (And honestly, I do that from time to time).
The busiest people I know are often the ones who make time to do more. What about you?
Make the time to make a difference.