Finding your volunteer spirit

With the dawning of a new year often comes the promise to do more to help one’s community. Many whisper that they will do more to serve others as one of their resolutions. But rather than merely a resolution, we are hoping individuals will make a solid commitment to service in places where service is so desperately needed.

While our community, and communities in neighboring counties like Duplin, have a core group of individuals who serve in civic organizations, work at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food banks and churches, the numbers seem to be dwindling even as the need continues to rise. What’s more, a large majority of those who roll up shirtsleeves to help are graying, with the younger population not as eager to step into their shoes or work alongside them.

But serving others is vital to strengthening our communities and making them better places for all to live.

Here in Sampson, a call has gone out from the Department of Aging seeking volunteers for the Home Delivered Meals Program, a long-time service project that provides nourishment to shut-ins. It has been a well-run and well participated in program that has offered many senior adults an opportunity to remain independent and within their homes.

But the program cannot run without volunteers, who deliver the meals along various seven-to-10-mile routes around the area each day. There are numerous days and routes available, allowing for an ease of access to the time and place most convenient for an individual’s schedule.

Being a part of the Home Delivered Meals program is work; it takes time; and it must be whittled into what most of us consider an already overbooked schedule day in and day out. But that’s what service above self is all about. Volunteer work isn’t meant to be easy, but it does offer untold rewards, not the least of which is being of assistance to our friends and neighbors.

In many cases, as with the Home Delivered Meals program, it provides, in addition to a nutritious meal, a little company to someone who may not get another visit all week. It also may be the one thing that allows an elderly person to stay in their home versus having to go to an assisted living facility. It gives them a sense of independence, a sense that someone cares and a sense of someone giving back to others who, more than likely, volunteered themselves when they were able.

Right now the meals program needs five volunteers. We are certain there are other special needs projects across our county that could use service-minded individuals as well.

It is a commitment, of that there is no question. And it takes time and a willingness to give of oneself. But more than that, it takes a heart with a bend toward helping others, not because they have to, but because they truly want to.

If you have that volunteer spirit, we urge you to be a part of Home Delivered Meals or some other service project aimed at helping our community and its people.You will be glad you took that step and, we know, those you help will be even happier you did.