Archive for Thursday, April 21, 2005

Opinion: Hats off to volunteers

April 21, 2005

Maybe, as we reflect in the middle of National Volunteer Week, the best way to demonstrate the importance of volunteers is to indulge in a little negative thinking.

Think how our lives would be with no volunteers. Imagine that some supernatural force somehow plucked from our midst all those unpaid people whose caring and sacrifice enrich our lives, leaving us with:

  • No Boy Scout or Girl Scout leaders;
  • No 4-H leaders;
  • No volunteer firefighters;
  • No church school teachers;
  • No YouthFriends volunteers in our schools;
  • No Meals on Wheels delivery persons;
  • No Tiblow Transit;
  • No Vaughn-Trent Community Services;
  • No youth softball or baseball coaches;
  • No one to pick up the trash along our highways;
  • No PTA, no room mothers -- and, probably, not any cookies, either.

This list just barely scratches the surface, but you surely get the point. The truth is, we still rely on our neighbors to help us with a lot of the jobs that need to be done to keep the wheels of government moving, to fill in for the services that government doesn't provide, or just to maintain a reasonable quality of life.

The city of Bonner Springs alone lists 23 separate quasi-official boards, committees, commissions or agencies that function partly or wholly with unpaid volunteers. Edwardsville and Basehor have similar numbers. In addition to obviously vital functions like the Fire Department, these volunteers oversee other emergency services, see to the administration of standards and watch after varied cultural and educational programs. All for no pay, just because they want to help.

America was founded on the volunteer spirit. In colonial times and on the frontier, as well as in our own time, volunteers have always answered the call. In bygone years, that may have consisted of picking up a musket to repel an attack, picking up an adze to craft a neighbor's barn or picking up a needle and thread to sew for a needy family; today's volunteers are serving needs that are, although in many cases less urgent, certainly every bit as worthwhile.

This week, April 17 through April 23, is being celebrated as National Volunteer Week. We're pleased to add our thanks to so many for so many jobs so well done.

For safer school buses, thanks

Congratulations are in order for all those who worked together in the recent effort to reduce the number of motorists driving by stopped school buses.

As reported in this newspaper last week, the recent effort by police, school officials and the Volunteers in Police Service organization reduced the number of such close calls by 65 percent.

Using a combination of planning and enforcement techniques, the three parties working together were able to reduce the number of violations from 28 in January and 18 in February to 10 in March.

The result is not just numbers on a page, either. The result is that the space around our school buses has become markedly safer.

We'd like to add our sincere thanks to all who had a part in this effort.

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