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Mayor's Report for April 2002

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Volunteerism: Expanding Our Horizons

By Mayor Michael Herman

How many times have you heard someone say something like "why can't they just do something about that?" Inclusion of the word "they" instead of "us" tells us much about how people see themselves and their power to effectuate change. I know people who chose to empower themselves and actually did something about it. For example, some years ago, a small handful of residents and I agreed we should build a club for children. Nine years and hundreds of children later, that historic meeting began a new idea and the birth of the Riverdale Boys and Girls Club. People said they could change a small part of the world and they did.

Why is it that we limit ourselves by expecting our public institutions to solve all our problems? "They have got to do something about those schools" is often heard. Unfortunately, too few stand up and attempt to directly influence that change. True, we are all busy people and our lives are already full beyond words. Yet, change occurs when people feel they have a stake in that change and use the words "I" and "we" rather than "them." I have seen how parent volunteers have worked to tutor children and assist busy teachers. I have seen how volunteer coaches change children's lives. I have observed first-hand how a small cadre of

volunteers at Crescent Cities Center have become an integral part of bringing that facility and the town closer than ever. I have seen how volunteer committees of our town government such as the Recreation Board, Preservation Association, Town Center Redevelopment Committee, Tree Committee, and Traffic Study Committee have brought unique energy and vision to solve problems and provide creative activities for our town and its residents. I have seen one volunteer single-handedly run the cable operations for all publicly televised meetings in town. Recently, I saw how one indispensable volunteer worked vigilantly to assure that our website was not off-line during a corporate transfer of accounts.

Each and every one of these dedicated volunteers is working to assist their government and institutions in solving problems. Forty years ago our youngest president asked us to reflect on what we could do for our country. He asked us to empower ourselves to be agents of change. The call then was no different than the call today. There are so many groups and so many needs in our community. Our churches are working to provide both spiritual and food nourishment to our most needy. They also need volunteers. Our local school, Riverdale Elementary, is eager for new adult volunteers. Our various town committees need additional members. Whether your interest is in historic preservation, sports, children's activities, gardening, education, aiding the needy or helping the elderly, there is a place for you. Change begins with "you" and "me", not them!

Can you find time in your schedule to devote one hour a week to building a stronger community? Can you find just 8 precious minutes a day, to change your world? If you can answer yes to these questions, please contact our local groups. Their numbers are on page 7 of thisissue of the Town Crier or just call the town hall. We'd be happy to get you in touch with volunteer organizations in and around our community. Thank you.

[Information about local groups is available in the Town Groups section of the web site -- webmaster]

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