Volunteers are a special breed of folks! Without them, our world would have a big void. We hear some people complain, “Why doesn’t somebody do something about…(fill in the blank). A few respond, “Can I help?” Perhaps a few others offer, “Let’s work on a solution.”

I’m reminded of the Oliver Wendell Holmes quote: “Some men see things the way they are and ask, why? I see things the way they could be and ask, why not?” Volunteers ask “why not” when they see issues or needs. Instead of complaints, they offer options and efforts at solutions.

Therein lies the difference between volunteers and non-volunteers! Non-volunteers are watchers. They observe the actions of others and try not to get involved. Volunteers choose to make something happen. Their ideas don’t always succeed, but at least they make an effort.

Volunteers refuse to be victims; they choose to create a victory for themselves and others. People who feel victimized often fail to make an effort to change their circumstances. They are the “bench sitters” in the game of life; volunteers are in the starting lineup. Even when things seem to be going in a negative direction, the person who volunteers may often change the outcome by a positive attitude toward the struggles around him.

Optimism alone won’t succeed every time, but it certainly helps to keep one in the game. A little leaguer stood in the dugout at his baseball game and shouted encouragement to his fellow players. I looked at the scoreboard and it read, Visitors 12, Home 0. I heard a bystander say, “It looks pretty bad” to the young cheerleader. The little man looked quizzically and said, “Nah, we’ll be fine as soon as we get to bat!”

That’s the kind of optimism volunteers bring to the issues they face. We all have to make choices about how we play the game. I’m clear about my choices. What about you?

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Dr. James E. Kilgore retired as President of the International Family Foundation and lives in Canton. His most recent book, “Living Without Limits,” was published in late 2019 and is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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