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Capricious volunteerism

As we’ve oft noted in this column, opportunities for volunteerism abound in our county, and more often than not, folks step up to fill the need.

Of course, many times it’s the same folks stepping up for one cause, then another, and then yet another. We all can think of people who could be dubbed patron saint of (fill in your town here) volunteers, and scratch our heads with either envy or wonder at how they manage to do it all.

Other times, like on Saturday for Marion Reservoir Cleanup Day, you find stalwart regulars like Lloyd Davies, Maggie Schroeder and her kids, the Alexanderfeld Church youth, and Neal Whitaker. Like many, they have a passion about the work that’s infectious, drawing folks like me into the fold.

No matter where you look, it seems that passionate volunteers doing work that has tangible and immediate benefits draws others in. People like to see the fruits of their labors, and they should, as that’s the payoff for volunteering.

Perhaps, though, this is why calls by the City of Marion and county commissioners for committee volunteers have come up short, as you’ll read elsewhere in this edition.

Marion economic development director Randy Collett found that he had to do some persuasive talking and arm-twisting to come up with volunteers to conduct a housing survey. It’s a task for which there’s no immediate payoff, no clearly visible inspirational activity.

The county’s call for businesspeople to volunteer for a committee with a nebulous charge to develop new directions for economic development hasn’t been drawing much interest, either. That’s not too surprising when one considers that there’s no clear goal to shoot for, no ring to grab as the carousel whirls.

It’s a reminder to us all that before we go looking for volunteers, we’ll have more success if we consider what’s in it for them, so that they know just what they’re going to get from it.

Last modified April 28, 2016

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