Hands that Serve, Hearts that Care
An inspirational overview of voluteering and how it has shaped America today.
| The spirit of volunteering has been woven into the fabric the American way of life since her birth as the leader of the free world. This thread of volunteering can be traced back to the founding fathers themselves and has been upheld and strengthened by a host of Americans in the many generations since. It is indeed an inspiring journey.
The winding path of the thread first woven by the founding fathers can be traced all the way to the heroic acts of many on September 11. The father of our country, George Washington saw the importance of serving the community as a proud member of a volunteer fire company in his native state of Virginia. In 1736, Ben Franklin established the first volunteer fire brigade in Pennsylvania. During the turbulent years of the Civil War, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross. It has since made a name for itself as a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the U.S to this day. During World War II, people came out in droves all across the nation and volunteered to do whatever they could to stop the Nazi invasion of the free world. Women staffed millions of jobs in community service roles such as United Service Organization and Red Cross while their husbands fought overseas. It was largely because of this willingness to serve that, Americans emerged out of a bloody world conflict, triumphant.
On September 11, 2001, when Islamic extremists rammed two airliners into the World Trade Center in N.Y City, the spirit of American volunteerism was again overwhelmingly displayed. Perhaps most prominent examples of this are the emergency workers. For hours, fire fighters fought the flames and searched in the rubble for survivors. Police directed traffic and distressed inhabitants to safe locations while medical personal ringed the site and tended to the hurt and suffering. Chaplains of local parishes graciously volunteered their time and services to give spiritual help to the sufferers. Once again, America’s spirit of volunteering and selflessness brought order to a situation fraught with confusion .
Members of my own family have volunteered for some time at community-oriented establishments. My father weekly helps out at a local food pantry in our town. My 19 year-old sister volunteers at a preschool down the street from my house as well as at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, R.I. My twin brother and I have spent many rewarding Sundays helping to bring religious services to the elderly shut-ins at a local nursing home. From a grandfather who played a major role in the development of a golf course for underprivileged children, to a grandmother who assisted ladies with special needs, our family is a family of volunteers.
The threads of the tapestry of volunteering in America have been passed from generation to generation. From the civic mindedness of the founding fathers, to the heroism of emergency workers on 9/11, to the helping hands in my own family, the thread of American volunteerism has remained unbroken.
It is placed at our feet. Will we continue the work?
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