Get involved for a Happier New Year

January 07, 2009 12:00 am

If the first week of 2009 finds you searching for personal resolutions, let us offer something a bit different: Make a commitment to help the community.

It’s not that we don’t want you bypass the typical self-help resolutions such as losing weight or getting more exercise. By all means, keep those on your list.

But finding a way in the new year to do some community service might also help with those personal goals. The experts tell us that the more social and involved you are, the healthier you’re likely to be.

How can you help the community? There are too many ways to count, so you surely can find something to fit your interests, time and abilities. Without playing favorites, because every group could use more help, let us offer a few examples.

Every fire department in the county is staffed by volunteers, who do everything from maintaining the gear to battling blazes. These aren’t the only action agencies that use volunteers either; there are others – search and rescue, police volunteers, and even the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Every school uses adult volunteers in a variety of ways: listening to young readers, helping with sports programs, mentoring teens in their college planning. Schools are not the only venue for helping youngsters; you can also consider groups such as Scouting, Civil Air Patrol, after-school sports programs and more.

The city has a myriad of volunteer programs that help support its efforts, from pulling weeds at Azalea Park to raising reward funds to help solve crimes.

Every social service agency in the county depends on volunteers to get the job done; you can help shelter battered women, stock the food bank, ship packages to the troops overseas, raise scholarship funds, or guide children through court cases. Just pick a cause and call. Is there a service that you think is missing? Take the lead in forming a group of like-minded people to get the job done.

Or join an organized service group – there are lots to choose from – Rotary, Soroptimists, Elks, Lions and more – that are already doing a job or two, and might also be interested in tackling your favorite cause.

Interested in culture? Go to your favorite theater, library, performance group, music series, museum or gallery and offer to help. All the plays, all the performances, all the festivals throughout the year are planned and carried out by volunteers.

Are animals or nature your passion? Help at the animal shelter, ask state parks how they use volunteers, or approach the Forest Service about chores that can be done.

It’s an Oregon way of life: Volunteers are the engine of much that happens in our communities. The more volunteers we have, the more services and amenities we will have.

The personal bonus is that you will learn more about how the community works, meet more people who share your interests, and find life more engaging if you’re involved in the social fabric of the place where you live.

Get involved, and we’re willing to bet you will indeed have a happier new year in 2008.