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The gift of giving back
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The history of volunteerism runs deep and wide in America. This great land of ours was built on the backs of volunteers. Winston Churchill once said in praising the beleaguered Royal Air Force, which, in spite of great odds, held off the mighty German Luftwaffe during World War II, "never in the face of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few." Churchill's sentiment can easily be applied to volunteers in this country today.

If you travel across this great land, including Rockdale County and our surrounding area, you will see parks, buildings, ball fields, forests and lakes, all built by the sweat and labor of volunteers.

You will still see that there are many hundreds of organizations like hospice, Boys and Girls Clubs, United Ways, chambers of commerce and many more incredible non-profit organizations all run by volunteers.

You will find volunteer firemen and ambulance personnel who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect you and me. You will find civic groups like the Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions clubs meeting the needs of their individual communities as well as the international community. You will hear of the great works of fraternal organizations such as the Elks and the American Legion and many others who - through the efforts of their volunteer base - help people every day and save the American taxpayer billions of dollars as well as contribute to the infrastructure of American life.

The bad news is that these volunteers are aging, and while having the same heart and the same goals, they move a little slower and sport a little more gray hair every year. This "graying of the volunteer force in America" is a concern, but the good news is that we seem to be experiencing a new trend toward volunteerism among our young people.

Forty-plus years ago, when I first started my climb up the corporate ladder, it was expected that if you wanted a quick rise through that world, you paid your "community dues" by volunteering. Companies took great pride in advertising that they were good "community citizens" who handled their civic responsibilities well. Unfortunately many companies have abandoned this encouragement of their executives to be involved in community activities

Since I was always eager to be successful in the corporate climb, I dutifully became the representative to United Way, organized blood drives, rang the bell for the Salvation Army at Christmas time, served as greeter for the local chamber, and raised money for organizations like the Red Cross and the Boys and Girls Club, as well as other non-profit organizations. I became a Jaycee and then a Rotarian.

As my community service increased, I realized that my involvement was not just based on my corporate growth but on a burning desire to contribute back something to the communities I served.

We are indeed fortunate to have many very civic-minded individuals here in Rockdale County. From what I read in this newspaper, the spirit of volunteerism is alive and well here. The folks who were born and bred here have it, because without that spirit our community wouldn't have such a positive giving attitude. The people who are moving here have it, because many of them brought it with them.

Our staff here at the Rockdale News believes in that same spirit. You will see us involved in church activities, in Boy and Girl Scout programs, in Rotary or Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce.

If you realize that you to want to give back to your community, there are many worthwhile organizations that would be glad to have you help them help others.

By doing so I know from personal experiences that you will receive special blessings and best of all, you will have made your community a better place.