A helping hand

Working together to accomplish goals – such as formulating a budget, (the School Board) devising a strategic plan (the Library, Orcas Center, the School District), organizing a parade (the Chamber of Commerce, the School Levy committee), sponsoring petition drives (the Ferry Tariff petition, the stormwater referendum, the Rosario annexation), putting on a Thanksgiving Dinner (the Odd Fellows, under the direction of Bill and Monique Gincig) – these are the labor and the rewards of community – combining time and energy to reach a desired goal.

But not everyone can devote an afternoon or evening to meetings, mornings to a petition drive, hours to study issues or to campaign by phone or email.

We are, by nature, compassionate people. We see it everyday in the easy “favors” we give each other – the gang of young men who pushed a truck out of the mud at the Orcas Idol auditions; the Lopez commuter who picked up the school principal when his car got stuck in the snowstorm; the neighbors who check in on each other when something seems amiss; the restaurant whose “karma” or tip jar is set up for withdrawals as well as deposits.

In between the spontaneous acts of kindness cited above and the organized projects of volunteers mentioned at the beginning of this editorial, are the “open heart, open hand” aspect of individual volunteers, providing one-to-one companionship – supporting, listening, advising – and friendship to island neighbors.

Individual volunteerism builds a community of vital, respectful, fun-loving and caring islanders. It gives the housebound the message that someone misses them out in “the world,” and it tells the rest of us that expanding our world beyond our structured hours and personal “downtime” is a good thing to do. It enlarges our circle of friends, it opens our minds and hearts, it completes the circle of community to a group that can often fade away from social involvement.

Volunteers such as the “Hearts and Hands” neighbors and the Funhouse mentors, all find a time to share their company, their abilities, their interests; to extend their hearts and hands to make life a little easier, a little lighter, for their neighbors.

Volunteers also model behavior to others that keeps our society a caring and connected neighborhood; and their example lights the way for the younger generations.

Many high school seniors step forward to volunteer their time, brains, energy and heart to serve the island community, as they carry out their senior projects.

“Hearts and Hands: Neighbors Helping Neighbors” has much to offer high school seniors in search of a community project.