No community would be what it is without volunteers. April is National Volunteer Month, and it’s a time not only to recognize those who give their time to help others, but also, ideally, to find a way to give back to your community.
Volunteers can be found just about everywhere you look on Long Island, from the schools to the fire departments to civic and service organizations. Whether they coach in youth sports leagues, head up PTA committees or staff the auxiliary police, these are all people who donate their time because they want to help others.
We should all find a way to thank them for doing what are often thankless jobs — for taking on often big-time commitments for nothing in return.
And all of us should look for ways we can volunteer in our communities, starting, perhaps, with small acts that can make a big difference in someone’s life. Dedicate an hour each week to deliver food for Meals on Wheels, or books from your local library to a homebound resident. Volunteer at your local hospital, food pantry or animal shelter.
Some of the most dedicated and hardworking volunteers we have can be found in our fire departments. Their unpaid commitment more than equals that of many full-time jobs, accustomed as they are to responding to calls at all hours and leaving their families on a moment’s notice. And then there’s the danger, as they regularly put themselves in harm’s way, running into burning buildings without hesitation, to protect lives and property. These are the men and women who keep the rest of us safe, not only at fires but at the scenes of car crashes, gas leaks and more. Their efforts often mean the difference between life and death.
Nassau County’s Volunteer Scholarship Program is a powerful incentive for people to serve in the unpaid emergency services. It offers tuition assistance to full- and part-time students at Nassau Community College, while they volunteer as firefighters or emergency medical technicians in their own towns.