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Douglas County

National Volunteer Month

Article by: Marlin Bates, County Extension Director, Community Development Agent

April is National Volunteer Month – and we’re dedicating this newsletter to the countless volunteers throughout Douglas County. The selfless giving of time, talent and treasure provides an immeasurable impact on Community. Service in this way may very well be the glue that binds us to one another. Certainly, non-volunteer activities bring cohesion and connectedness, but we think that there’s a special added value to the uncompensated commitment of a citizen to his or her neighbors.

Here at K-State Research and Extension – Douglas County, our mission to create a safe, sustainable, competitive food and fiber system and strong, healthy communities, families and youth through integrated research, analysis and education is made possible through public investment. Financial investment, yes, but also through investments made by over 300 volunteers who are committed to helping us achieve that mission. These altruistic individuals are not simply committed to us, they’re committed to you – their acquaintances, their community, their natural world, their fellow humans.

We recognize that we’re not unique in receiving the organizational benefits of volunteerism. Douglas County has a rich ecosystem of social service agencies, organizations and businesses that rely on the gifts of volunteers. From community board members, advisory committees to local government and in-kind professional service providers to more boots-on-the-ground volunteers, there is abundant opportunity for giving back in Douglas County. Among these networks, you’re likely to find social traits that epitomize community – trust, humility, vulnerability and possibility. Volunteerism is the thread that weaves sectoral fabrics into tapestry.

Opening ourselves through selfless giving provides us the opportunity to genuinely share with our neighbors in a common purpose. This bridge building doesn’t just lead to more effective progress toward community or organizational goals, it enriches the worldview of those involved. Today, we easily recognize that people do not always agree on principle. When we avoid integration with others who don’t agree with us, isolation prevails. An engaged community, however, more often recognizes the value of differing perspectives and embraces that difference – understanding that the perspectives of one faction require the tempering of others to be truly representative (a prerequisite in a democracy).

Without opportunities to roll up our sleeves with our neighbors, few chances remain to ensure that communities rise above the threat of isolationism. So, to all of the companies, agencies and organizations throughout Douglas County who encourage their employees to volunteer – thank you. And to all of you who provide a platform of meaningful work for volunteers – thank you. For the countless individuals of all ages and from all backgrounds who contribute to their community – thank you. And to the volunteers at K-State Research and Extension – Douglas County – thank you for your commitment not just to the betterment of our organization, but for your implicit pledge to make certain that our community serves as an example of togetherness. To all of you, thank you for opening your hearts and your minds to possibility and for making Douglas County a better place to live, work and play.