By Randy Snyder

This is the ninth piece I have journalized regarding examples of people and organizations that PAY IT FORWARD!  This morning while power walking, I did a mental inventory of my past articles and my heart and mind went to the most obvious example of PAYING IT FORWARD.  This focus is on volunteers and volunteerism, the ultimate example of individuals that donate time, money and skills with no expectation of reward or reciprocation.  The definition (Webster) of a volunteer is:  a person who does work without getting paid to do it.  Additionally the definition of volunteerism is: the act or practice of doing volunteer work in community service.


The myriad of organizations, events, services in the area that depend on volunteers to donate time, energy, talents, skills and trades, is second to none, and is an attribute to the area’s culture, beliefs and willingness of the people to uphold PAYING IT FORWARD by giving of themselves.


Due to the possibility of overlooking some of the outstanding volunteers and those leading the volunteers, I chose not to include names.  Some volunteers would need to be included multiple times as they are involved in numerous activities.  Worth mentioning is the fact that we live in essentially, a rural environment with a relatively sparse population.  Considering that fact the amount of volunteer driven organizations and events is even more impressive.


Sometimes the time donated ends with the completion of the event.  Other events are ongoing as the volunteers and their time are the lifeblood actually driving the organization on a continuous basis.


An example of quintessential volunteers and volunteerism is the Mountains Branch Library.  The library has a manager and assistant manager on the payroll, but relies on 22 volunteers serving six days a week in two shifts totaling 72 hours of time.  This cadre of volunteers is from their fifties to the eighties and serve Monday thru Saturday, and in the words of the manager are the most reliable, dependable and efficient of any group she has ever worked with.

We have many events in the area that are only possible because volunteers are making them happen.  Certainly the Olympiad and the Arts and Crafts Festival are premier examples of quality and fun events we all enjoy.


Many of our organizations and clubs only happen due to the diligence of the volunteers, such as the Newcomer’s, the Rumbling Bald Home Owner’s Association, The Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach and the HNG Chamber of Commerce.


Some of the services we may all need sometime, would not exist if not for volunteers such as the various fire departments, Hospice of Rutherford County and the County Animal Humane Society.


I have experience volunteering in several different capacities and find it interesting how few people find the time to express their appreciation and how willing they are to express their criticism when things don’t go as planned.  I would suggest that when a person is directly benefitting from any of the efforts of volunteers, a thank you or positive expression would go a long way even though it is not expected.


In closing I would be remiss if I did not highlight The Mountain Breeze which is made possible by skilled writers contributing to the paper. Their time and effort writing articles seven times throughout the year are appreciated!