Volunteers deserve recognition for all they do

By Clyde Davis: Local Columnist

The unsung heroes are numerous. They are not always the ones who commit heroic deeds, who rise to the crisis. The heroes on whom we focus this column are heroes who live, ongoing, in a way that will impact children.

They include the science professor who volunteers as Scoutmaster with a very special group of Boy Scouts.

There is the grandma who, though already coaching an elementary girls soccer team, heard that a team of small boys was going to have to disband for lack of a coach. You guessed it; she’s coaching two teams.

Have you heard about the woman who wished that her church, blessed with a growing population of small children, had a children’s choir? Being musically skilled, she didn’t stop with wishing, but went ahead and started one.

A man and his son spend hours organizing and planning a Halloween party because they want it to be, not run of the mill, but an event that the kids will remember.

A college student volunteers his time with the reading mentoring program at his neighborhood school.

A senior adult artist takes her ceramic and pottery skills into the school classroom to enhance the arts program.

Volunteer leaders in local children’s programs are backed up and undergirded by volunteer record keepers, bookkeepers and equipment keepers, who don’t get the direct reward of seeing the little folks grow. Without them, however, nothing would function.

There are plenty of jaw-droppers willing to criticize the volunteer coaches, Scoutleaders, skill instructors and others who work with children. While coaching 9- and 10-year-old football linemen in Ohio, I was working them on the blocking sled for the first few weeks of practice. Whether aged 6 or 36, linemen need to warm up on a sled before they thump each other; technique prevents injury. The father who kept loudly proclaiming, “C’mon. When they gonna hit each other?” suddenly lost his voice when I offered him the clipboard and the playbook.

This person, or his incarnation, is present at every youth music, drama, arts or sporting event. He proudly proclaims that he lacks the patience to work with kids. She claims not to have enough time, though she often has less on her calendar than the coach. In the case of older children, he may be using the activity as a dropoff child care and question the inconvenience of leaders’ expectations on parents. This person is the often vocal minority.

Keep in mind, all of you who volunteer with children, that person is the minority.

Most of us are grateful and appreciative of the time you put in — at practice sessions, leadership planning, training events to enhance your own skills —and, oh yes, the e-mailing and phone calls. Volunteers working with kids, you rock!