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 andndash;

search and rescue, police volunteers, and even the Coast Guard


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 andndash; there are lots to choose

from andndash; Rotary, Soroptimists, Elks, Lions and more andndash; 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.