Know how long people have been joining volunteer fire departments? Since 1736, when Ben Franklin started the first one, in Philadelphia. But you can be sure people were joining neighbors to help put out fires, or joining other groups to help those in need, for centuries before that.
Marine Mills Folk School participated in the Marine Art Fair this past weekend, an annual event hosted by local volunteers to support the Marine Fire and Rescue squad. It takes a tremendous amount of effort but people come together to help ensure there is a local fire department ready to help in emergencies. What makes people join their local fire department, or volunteer to help kids struggling with reading, or join a new but resource-poor folk school organization?
Volunteerism is a big part of who we are as Americans. In fact, as a country we volunteer more than any other country.
Even way back when, Alexis de Tocqueville was struck by the willingness of Americans to identify a need, find others to unite around this need and find a solution. In his 1835 book Democracy in America, he noted “from that moment, they are no longer isolated but have become a power seen from afar whose activities serve as an example and whose words are heeded.”
Photo Credit: npr.org
What are the reasons people volunteer? There are many reasons, including joining together to effect change, having fun helping others, supporting those who need it, an inability to say no – whatever the reason, we want to honor volunteers who create hope, who work hard, and who are helping all of us move forward to a better future. We know the benefits received from volunteering are greater than what is required of the volunteer, but it does take a commitment. Thank you to those who volunteer for our local fire and ambulance squad, to those who volunteer at a local school, or simply those in an audience who volunteer to help clean up after an event. Our lives are better because of you, and your efforts are valued.
Information cited above is from an interesting article on volunteerism. A good read if you’re interested.