"I don't know whether we could rouse such support in a major city.
Smaller cities have a tighter weave to the community fiber. People
are connected because they intersect at work, in stores, through
church, at school functions. What you read in the paper happens to
people you know. So when my sister and I worked on the first Make a
Difference Day, or later when Laurel and I expanded community
involvement, we were already well networked.
"Nationwide volunteerism has been affected by time poverty. This
doesn't mean people don't want to help - if you make it easy to get
involved, most folks will step forward if asked. That's what we've
done with our efforts. People with more time or enthusiasm
spearhead an effort like landscaping a street, maintaining a trail,
entertaining the elderly, cleaning a park
Then, with the help of
the local media, we publicize the details of these projects. Locals
see or hear what needs to be done, pick a project of interest, show
up, and help.
"Despite their willingness to help if you can make it easy, it
seems like many Americans get sidetracked from volunteering because
they are too focused on their ma-terial well-being. When my husband
and I had babies, about all we bought were diapers; now parents
fill up their homes with baby paraphernalia. That applies to much
of what we spend our lives earning. I don't have cable services for
the television, don't own a cellphone, and don't have a computer
because these possessions consume time and money that, for me, is
better spent elsewhere.
"Recently I participated in a mission project in Nicaragua and the
poverty there, by our standards, was severe. Yet, amazingly, the
people were happy - they had tight families, strong faith, and
connected communities. That had me wondering whether it is us, with
our fragmented families wandering the strip malls of plenty, who