When A Community Cares
(April 21, 2010)
|Harlingen, Texas, April 19, 2010 -- The entire congregation watched as a young boy took us on a video tour of a room. Quentin Hale was showing us the complete renovation of our church attic into a freshly painted, newly floored, carpeted and neatly arranged storage room. This was a volunteer effort. It was Quentin's Eagle Scout project that took almost 300 hours of personal service and labor performed for other people in his community. It was also noteworthy that this project was unveiled on April 18th, the start of National Volunteer Week.|
This year the appreciation card sent out by many organizations is headlined “Volunteers Build A Better World”. What a solid truth. You see it everywhere in times of stress and emergency. If a hurricane or an earthquake strikes, if floods or fire devastate the land, if loss and suffering are prevalent, it is the people...the volunteers, who are first on the scene reaching out a helping hand.
Harlingen, Texas is mid sized city in Deep South Texas. In a region that has always been considered undereducated and economically disadvantaged, it is also a community that cares. At this hour the city is celebrating its centennial anniversary and doing so with multiple projects that have taken two years of volunteer effort by a small army of citizens.
The city's annual Trash Bash was just completed. Several hundred volunteers marched across roadways, parks and vacant property to pick up and remove unsightly waste materials.
Today the Salvation Army Board, made up of local volunteers, meets to handle the administrative matters of this organization that daily answers the call of those in distress. Over at Loaves and Fishes volunteers are serving hot food to several hundred men, women and children who would go hungry were it not for this community organization. Tonight dozens of homeless people will have a safe, warm bed at the same facility. Those who need training can take advantage of the Loaves and Fishes Job Shop.
Not to be forgotten is the Vera Naumann Family Emergency Assistance organization that has reached out to pay the rent, utilities or provide food for a family that has just lost its income. Add to that list the Family Crisis Center, always there to protect and care for those who have been subjected to domestic violence. In an area populated by so many immigrants, there is also the Literacy Center, filled with classes teaching those who seek to learn to speak and read a new language. The majority of those staffing these services are volunteers.
Though funded with tax dollars to care for those with mental illness, mental retardation and in need of outpatient medical treatment, Rio Grande State Center can only offer basic food, shelter and treatment. It is private money, many volunteer organizations and individuals who provide a good quality of life for the residents and patients of the facility.
At Ronald McDonald House families, who could not afford the high cost of hotel living can stay close to their children receiving hospital care. All of the House expense is covered by private dollars and the services of volunteer organizations.
Not to be forgotten are the multiple civic clubs and church organizations of the city. The Rotary, The Lions, The Knights of Columbus, The Boys and Girls Club, The Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts of America...and so many more are there, ready and able to build a better world.
This community is really no different than hundreds of others, found in small towns and even big cities across America. In a country where almost 80% of the people can no longer place any trust in their government, isn't it refreshing to know we have so many citizens who reach out to others with caring hands?
By Thomas D. Segel
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