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soc.org.service-clubs.misc Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Section - Q1.2. Why do community service? (personal essay)

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Top Document: soc.org.service-clubs.misc Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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[Forgive the rambling nature of this essay.  Perhaps over time it will
evolve and become more coherent and organized.  Then again, perhaps
not.  In any case, feedback is still welcome.]

There are many reasons why people are involved in community service.

There are hungry people in the world, who need someone to feed them.
There are handicapped people in the world, who need someone to
encourage them.
There are elderly people in the world, who need someone to comfort them.
There are lonely people in the world, who need someone to befriend them.
There are young people in the world, who need someone to give them
guidance.

Such a list could go on and on, of course.  The need is out there,
almost everywhere you look in our communities.

Some have always asserted that it's the government's job to take care
of people in need; other claim that private charitable organizations
and individuals can shoulder the whole burden of helping those in
need.  These viewpoints have even entered American political debate.
I think both extremes are wrong.  Both government and private
assistance have their place.  Government assistance will continue only
if voters loudly and firmly express their desires to see the
continuance of particular programs.  Private assistance will continue
only if enough of us ask ourselves, in our hearts, whether we can
afford to give of ourselves.

Certainly, different people choose to give in different ways.  There's
a public service ad campaign I've seen which I haven't been
particularly impressed with --- "Give 5%", both of one's time and of
one's income --- but which is one of the few I've seen that links
those two types of giving.  Over the last 6-7 years, I've personally
mostly given time.  Perhaps in the future, I'll shift toward giving
money, once I have money to give, that is. :) But, there's definitely
something very satisfying about giving one's time and getting one's
hands dirty (whether literally or figuratively speaking) and I can't
imagine that signing a check, no matter large, could give the same
*KIND* of satisfaction.

In the acknowledgements section of my masters thesis, I credit my
participation in community service (via APO) as having a positive
effect, noting that "it is healthy to be reminded that there are more
important things out there in the real world than passing classes or
finishing thesis".  It's easy to get caught up in the details and
travails of one's own life.  While I don't wish to trivialize my own
troubles or anyone else's, it was useful to be reminded that other
people have other kinds of problems, and maybe mine aren't so
catastrophic after all.

Performing community service can have other appeals as well, which are
less altruistically oriented.  Personally, I've learned how to
organize groups of people and making events happen, and I've become a
credible rough-hewn carpenter; both these skills will bear me good
stead in the non-volunteer aspects of my life.  I've become fast
friends with terrific people --- "kindreds spirits", as L.M.
Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables would say --- who I probably
would never have met otherwise.

[Source: Ping Huang <pshuang@mit.edu>.]

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Top Document: soc.org.service-clubs.misc Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Previous Document: Q1.1. What *IS* a service club?
Next Document: Q1.3. Why join a service club instead of volunteering individually?

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