Volunteerism, the ability to enact change

Just a teenager in high school, Lizzie Phipps received the Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service, awarded by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. The Town of Newton Grove also bestowed a proclamation in recognition of her volunteerism.

Modest and displaying an intelligence and understanding beyond her years, Phipps called it a blessing. She said she was fortunate for the opportunity and humbled by the nomination.

She received the award for her countless hours spent in the community and at local senior and assisted living centers, specifically Rolling Ridge Assisted Living in the Newton Grove area.

Rolling Ridge’s Tiffany Johnson said Phipps exemplified the definition and qualities of a volunteer, a “remarkable young individual who provides dedication, love, encouragement and countless hours to serve those around her.”

We agree, and we echo not only those sentiments but the comments from Newton Grove Mayor Gerald Darden.

In presenting the proclamation on behalf of the town, noting Phipps’ years volunteering at Rolling Ridge that enriched the lives of its residents and visitors, the mayor said volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy.

“You can vote in elections once a year,” the mayor said, “but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”

Volunteerism truly does serve to effect change, impact communities and improve the quality of lives.

It has a ripple effect, from those who directly receive the fruits of that volunteerism, to the positivity one feels by making somebody else’s life a little better. Even indirectly, the spark of a volunteer’s work — maybe the grandchild of a Rolling Ridge resident who received an unexpected gift, or anybody who read a story about a good Samaritan and felt motivated to give their time to a worthy cause.

For years, Phipps solicited donations from various area churches, collecting socks that she then distributed to residents at Rolling Ridge, Southwood, Mary Gran and the Mt. Olive Center for the holidays. She delivered goodie baskets at Easter with the help of Ellington Tart. She visited these centers and saw that some residents wore the same thing over and over, and sought to change that. That may seem a little thing, but a small charitable act can mean the world to the recipient.

We’re thankful for young people like Lizzie and those who volunteer their own time to improve their communities, and brighten the days of those around them.

We’re grateful for teachers like Connie Thornton, who encourage, facilitate and guide those efforts, and parents like Elouise Phipps, who have instilled the importance of volunteerism and supported that passion for giving back.

We’re thankful for Tiffany Johnson and others at Rolling Ridge, who went beyond simply saying “thank you” and, through their own time and effort, sought to award that passion on a larger scale.

Lizzie Phipps did not do what she did to be noticed. But by acknowledging someone who strives to make their world a better place, and positively impact the people around them, we reward what is great in our society. We show that we don’t take it for granted, and in doing that, hopefully we reinforce that behavior.

We show that we not only notice, but we care too.

Thank you to Lizzie Phipps and her generosity, and those who nurtured that. It serves to make this community, and this world, that much brighter.