By Ruth Gadebusch
Despite all the uproar about taxes—unfair, too little, too much, affecting the wrong people, exemptions, etc.—they are necessary. However, they are not the only wealth sustaining our nation. Unable to function on taxes alone, our society needs charitable contributions of dollars, time and talent. As a way of choosing, putting our effort where our beliefs are, volunteerism is immeasurable, integral to a great nation.
Yes, there are those who never offer a bit but, arguably, no place in the world has volunteerism developed to a finer tune. Despite the selfish thinking only of themselves, there are unsung s/heroes working individually or in countless organizations depending solely on volunteers.
Also, there are organizations with paid staff and volunteers and, sadly, a few seeming to exist for the job security of the professionals. Before making a commitment to an organization, we should investigate how much is actually used for the purpose—if the results are commensurate with the donation.
Of course, there are individuals in every society who are more aware of the needs of their fellow/sister citizens and act accordingly, but organized volunteerism is the focus of this column. Hardly a person among us has escaped the plethora of pleas generated by the holiday season and the closeout of a year when there might be tax advantages to giving money.
It is impossible to name all the good causes in our area, much less across the nation. They are faith based, medical, education, behavioral and on and on. Each attempts to make a better world whether with donations or government grants.
Naming several is not to ignore others or to assign merit. It simply suggests some possibilities. FIRM (Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministry) comes to mind in its landmark time when its founding director, Dr. Sharon Stanley, is moving on to other service. This organization serves the many refugees faced with Herculean tasks of resettlement adjusting as few of us ever experience.
Vastly different is the service of often falsely maligned Planned Parenthood. Some of its most ardent supporters have little idea of the extent of its service, including a call center that refers those in need to another nearby clinic if the nearest one is booked or of the varied educational programs for males, as well as females.
Serving a different mission yet are the Public Broadcasting System, Valley Public Radio and this newspaper, The Community Alliance, filling a void left by the local daily.
Not to be forgotten is the political world with the League of Women Voters (nonpartisan information on issues), the National Women’s Political Caucus (multi-partisan women candidates support) and, of course, the various political parties’ advocacy.
These few can only serve to remind us all of the wide range of needs and therefore opportunity to make a difference. A good way to start the New Year is to become involved in your particular area of interest.
Ruth Gadebusch is a community activist, a veteran, a former member of the Fresno Unified School Board and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and an emeritus member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Civic Education.