"Throughout my life, I've seen the difference that voluntary efforts can make in people's lives," President Jimmy Carter once said. "I know the personal value of service as a local volunteer."
As everyone who managed to live beyond Sept. 11 knows, that value is increasing on an hourly basis.
And with Saturday's arrival of the Rim Country Care Fair during which some 30 local benevolent organizations will be asking folks to share their time, skills, talents, energy and compassion you'll be able to find out first-hand why volunteers have been called "the silver lining of the cloud of disaster."
It isn't going too far out on a limb to suggest that it's been an overwhelming month-and-a-half since the term "Ground Zero" was given new meaning, and the emotional and psychological reactions have rippled out to affect just about everyone, well past our borders to the rest of the world.
But the miracle that always seems to accompany horrific events has remained at front and center: the almost kneejerk human response to want to "do something" to write a check, donate blood or items, search for survivors, feed rescuers, or provide solace to grieving relatives. In times of crisis, it is safe to say, the word "volunteer" becomes a badge of honor; a synonym of "hero."
What has also been apparent in recent weeks is the reciprocal nature of volunteering. In addition to genuinely wanting to help, many volunteers deeply need to be doing something constructive and communal for their own mental health, as an outlet for pain, frustration, rage, and/or a sense of powerlessness.
Volunteer service, in other words, benefits both giver and receiver.
Be a giver and a taker. Visit the Rim Country Care Fair tomorrow, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Mormon Church on Aero and Ponderosa Streets in Payson. For information, call 472-7979.
Mike Burkett, reporter