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A strong faith in volunteers & Christianity

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POSTED October 8, 2010 1:46 a.m.
“You can’t rely on volunteers.”
Those words uttered by a non-believer in the power of good some 14 months ago still sting the ears of Jim Todd.

It was at a Manteca City Council meeting where Todd was pitching the initial major project for “Taking it to the Streets” that involved planting 300 trees along the Tidewater Bike Path.

The audience member stood up, chastised the Crossroads Grace Community outreach minister and proceeded to tell the council that they had no business having volunteers do the work as they weren’t reliable to do what they said they’d do.

Today 300 trees stand as testimony to both the power of faith and the power of volunteerism.

Yet volunteers - just like Christians - have to prove their commitment it seems every time they turn around.

“I understand that volunteers don’t always come through,” Todd said.

But most - just like most disciples of the world’s great religions - hold true to their commitments.

Unfortunately it is instances where volunteers have let people down or those who twist their faiths into justifications to kill and maim that garner the bulk of the attention and therefore create the perception that both volunteerism and religions are colossal failures or else are on the verge of irrelevance.

It is human nature. An auto shop does a flawless job on our vehicle and we boast about it to maybe a handful of people. But if they make a mistake, we tend to complain to dozens about the quality of service.

What we forget is that volunteers - not paid government employees - are who literally created the concept of the United States of America and then put their lives on the line often without pay to make it happen.

George Washington could not have defeated the British without volunteers.

Before the Golden Age of Government a lot of things were done in communities such as Manteca without any federal assistance. The ball parks at Lincoln Park - Manteca’s original community park - were created by volunteers. It was volunteer labor - although skilled - that built the Boys & Girls Club.

Obviously we can’t go back to those days entirely.

But it is true that the expectation government will save us all and take care of every need and want has made volunteering a challenge to do in many jurisdictions.

That, however, isn’t the case in Manteca.

Manteca Police, for example, accepted the help of those stepping up to volunteer through the Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police (SHARP) with open arms. The same is true of the fire department and the Seniors Aiding Fire Effort. The result is that Manteca has more volunteers working in such capacities than many larger cities.

And the success of Give Every Child a Chance’s free tutoring program for struggling kids wouldn’t have occurred without the help of 300 volunteers.

These volunteers are not taking jobs away from anyone as some imply. Rather they are enhancing government’s limited resources and are effectively serving the community. They do so by doing tasks that would have gone to the wayside or doing pedestrian tasks that can free up trained public safety officers to do what they do best - keep Manteca safe.

The “Taking it to the Streets” on Sunday of three churches - New Hope, Crossroads Grace and Northgate Community is a natural extension of both Christianity and volunteerism.

The two are one of the same - love thy neighbor, if you will - through helping them and/or the community.

What you will see on Sunday is a small army of men, women, and children wearing green professing their love of Christianity and their community.

To doubt the power, motive and commitment of volunteers is to doubt the strength of America.
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