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We the people

Progressive Forage Editor Lynn Jaynes Published on 14 November 2016

By the time you read this, “we the people” will have elected (and not happily, I might add) one more U.S. president. Some say voting is the ultimate exercise in democracy. However, it’s also been said, “You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” Volunteers are builders.

For several years, a widowed, aging farmer in Idaho received a knock on his door once a week, and when he answered it, his dairyman neighbor delivered his evening meal. The dairyman was a builder.

Many years ago, a good rancher in a small Nevada community was asked to take on heavy and time-consuming (but completely volunteer) responsibilities for his church.

Grateful neighbors combined resources to provide gravel, loaders, scrapers and trucks to haul gravel to this fellow’s rutted dirt road, improving his access from the county road about 2 miles to his home. No money exchanged hands. This rancher and his neighbors knew how to be builders.

Although we often define ourselves by our “day jobs” – I’m a farmer, I’m a cattleman, I’m a seed salesman, I’m a mechanic – I wonder if it isn’t the non-paid activities that define us.

I recently asked some farming folks what service they had offered over the years. These are just a few of their (combined) responses:

I man a political booth at the county fair. I’m on the board of the town movie theater. I volunteer at our local museum (or library).

I coach American Legion baseball. I’m on the chain gang for sophomore and varsity home football games. I work in the booster club concession stand. I’m an equipment manager for Little League football. I run the scoreboard at softball games.

I serve at American Legion and VFW. I deliver Thanksgiving dinners to the homebound. I raise funds for Christmas baskets.

I’m a den leader in cub scouts, a Boy Scout scoutmaster and committee chairman. I build floats for the 4-H club for a Memorial Day parade. I cook chicken and chops to support the annual county 4-H cookout. I’m a 4-H leader.

I teach Sunday School. I serve in the church nursery. I give out Bibles at schools and area colleges. I do photography and videography for our church. I took on the flowerbed in front of the church and keep it up. I teach Bible at the local prison two times per week. I support mission trips with donations. I have given cars and houses to missionaries who need them.

I volunteer in the food pantry and clothing store. I’m a volunteer firefighter. I built bingo stands for the local fire company. I repair band equipment for our local marching band.

I’m a board member of our snowmobile club – and we mark and groom trails. I sing in a county-wide choir. I help with a free produce giveaway after we glean fields. I serve in a community acting group. I play music with some old guys down at the rest home once a month when I can.

I help first- and second-graders learn to read at public school twice a week. I’m on a local board for a retirement center. I have a little round I make to help the homebound elderly.

Many volunteers responded that they serve on community boards – literally too numerous to name. As one Nebraska farmer quipped, “Just passing on the blessings,” and thereby magnifying the concept that it’s never too early and it’s never too late to ease the journey of another.

No matter who sits in the Whitehouse, it’s the citizens who are the nation’s builders. As the Nazarene theologian W.T. Purkiser said, “It’s not what we say about our blessings but how we use them that is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”

Volunteers are incredible people, building a nation on the backs of service. Yes, we are “we the people” – “we the (quiet) people … ”  end mark

Note: You may see another face from time to time on the editorial page in 2017. As we grow to 11 issues and corral more resources, Editor Cassidy Woolsey will sometimes “pilot” the magazine’s production cycle and write the editorial. It doesn’t mean I’ve gone anywhere.

I’m still here. It just means you get a break from seeing my sorry mug all the time. (You’re welcome.)

Lynn Jaynes
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