Ultimate Exercise in Democracy

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year or maybe every four years, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” -Author unknown

Last month, JA-Rocky Mountain had the pleasure of co-hosting the JA Western Regional Conference in Denver. We teamed up with our Houston JA of Southeast Texas colleagues to plan and present the conference to 110 JA associates from 18 different offices. We spent two days together, sharing best practices, learning new concepts and strategies, and focusing on professional development. It was a fun and rewarding few days of learning and networking.

Fast forward three weeks and we watch as our friends from JA of Southeast Texas face enormous loss and heartache. Staff members were evacuated from their homes and lives have been turned upside down.

In the face of unprecedented and catastrophic flooding, it is uplifting to me to see the amazing number of volunteers who are risking their own lives to help rescue complete strangers.

What is it about the American spirit that makes volunteering not just something you see during natural disasters and times of crisis, but something we witness every single day? Volunteers reflect this nation’s compassion, concern, patience and just plain goodness. You see these special individuals in Rotary Clubs, volunteer fire departments, community centers, national parks, and JA!

We are uplifted everyday by JA volunteers who give their time to help young people they have never met learn, grow and embrace opportunity. No matter how divided we might feel by geography, age or circumstance, we can all share in the magic that happens when you have a kind heart and a giving spirit.