Volunteerism alive, well in area

Published 3:18 am Wednesday, April 9, 2003

By By James Crawford
News Editor
This past week I had the pleasure of meeting Ret. Col Herb Lockett, a true American if I have ever met one and an impressive man to meet in person. He has a very authoritative voice when he speaks and he's rock solid on his details.
Lockett was in town last week to give a speech about the war and America to a joint meeting of the Rotary and Lion's club. Unfortunately, a prior assignment kept me from attending the bulk of the meeting but I did get to sit in on the last few minutes and talk with Lockett afterwards.
One of the things he told me that has stuck with me like a piece of popcorn between my teeth is the subject of volunteerism here in America. I'm not trying to make light of what the colonel had to said, quite the opposite. The general had quite the sense of humor and I'm sure would appreciate that comment. The fact is the colonel's words just won't leave me. I'm sure we are all thinking about Iraq and the war and I have been too but Lockett just made a lot of sense in what he said and I can't stop pondering about it, much like it takes hours to remove the aforementioned corn husk.
One of the points that he drove home was that the United States has built its history on the success of volunteers. Of course, Lockett focused on the military and the fact that our current armed forces are based on volunteers who sign up and proudly wear the colors to keep us safe and our way of live safe. But there are other volunteers who work just as hard in other areas that are just as vital to our well being.
I was reminded of that fact when I visited the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department's Fish Fry this past Saturday down on James Road. I first had the pleasure of meeting the group that makes up the fire department a couple of months ago when I drove down to take pictures of the new building they had just completed.
The building was just a shell then with a floor, walls and ceiling but in short order has now become a building with offices, a training room, bathrooms and electrical lines for power.
I was amazed at how much had been done in just a short time and that's when it hit me – the power of volunteers who believe in a cause and have the fortitude to finish what they start.
The department volunteers aren't paid, they work extremely hard, risk their lives to fight fires and don't always get even a thank you. In a society that demands retribution for every single action, volunteers are getting scarce to find who don't want something in return other than the satisfaction of being a contributing factor in a good cause.
But that can't be said of volunteer firefighters. These guys give it there all. They have to. Fighting fires is dangerous business. I used to be a volunteer back in Tuscaloosa and I can tell you that I didn't have the drive to do what these guys do. That's a negative trait about myself I'm trying to change and I encourage everyone else to look in the mirror and ask yourself – have you volunteered to help in a cause or function lately.
If you have, then rest easy, you're part of the solution. If you haven't, then take a moment to consider your talents and what you might could do to help a problem or concern in our community.
Helping your neighbors is a worthwhile endeavor that will stay with you always. It's something for which you can hold your head up and be proud of. As the saying goes, get off the porch and do something.
Atmore is fortunate in that we have a host of regular community volunteers that stand up and support causes such as The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life; the American Heart Association's Cardiac Arrest and the United Fund. These volunteers arrange cook-offs, cake sales, rodeo events, races and many other fundraisers to gather the money needed for these worthwhile causes and they should be commented.
The churches also play a large role in helping out with the community food bank and the donations they give but it's the people who give of their time singularly that are the true backbone.
But Atmore can't survive on just these folks; we need even more people to get involved. I know it's hard to find the energy to commit to something after you've worked a hard eight-hour shift but this town needs you.
Citizens are the lifeblood of any community and have a duty to contribute, and I'm not talking about just in taxes. Taxes take care of paying the bills but the community still needs more people to turn out and get involved with activities. This weekend while you're watching TV, turn the thing off and get out a piece of paper. List the things you are good at. The things you like to do and the problems you feel passionate about. Once you do that then turn the past and write out the solutions you feel will help and what you can do to help accomplish them. If everyone takes the time to find a worthwhile cause to get involved with, just thing of what we could accomplish together.
James Crawford is News Editor of The Atmore Advance. He can be reached by phone at 368-2123 or by e-mail at james.crawford@atmoreadvance.com.

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