Turn for Better Helping community is an ageless thing

Hood River News Editorial

July 16, 2005

Every society needs to sustain itself by feeding the young.

Feeding as in nutritious food and nurturing spirit.

Communities should acknowledge the people who care for their children — from natural parents who give their love and energy to their own children to foster parents who support children who are not “their own” except in the broader sense that we all can benefit from the health, happiness and safety of all the children in our midst. The State of Oregon and the non-profit Next Door, Inc., are constantly in need of qualified, caring adults to give temporary foster shelter and guidance to young people from the Gorge.

For those who choose to make a smaller commitment, programs such as (to name but a few) Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Court Appointed Special Advocate program and SMART reading (Start Making A Reader Today) are always seeking volunteers for one to a few hours each week.

Age is not an impediment, in most cases, for helping those community organizations that help our young people. A case in point is that of Big Brothers/Big Sisters mentor Emily Bounds, profiled on page A1 of this issue.

Emily, 18, was named on July 7 as Volunteer of the Year from Hood River United Way. The organization funds numerous organizations serving children, the elderly, and other segments of the community in need of programs to help them get through life.

“Ms. Bounds spends an hour each week throughout the school year with Kyle (not the boy’s real name),” wrote the program’s Jennifer Swanson in nominating Bounds. “She has been committed to Kyle and their weekly meetings for a year and a half.”

“It is evident through the relationship she shares with Kyle, and Kyle’s growing positive attitude towards school, that Ms. Bounds is making a positive difference in his life. Ms. Bounds is customarily the first mentor to arrive, and the last one to leave.”

Emily is an example of the young feeding the young. She is by no means the youngest volunteer in the county, and people who take time out to help range widely in age and station. We echo the words of Hood River United Way president Paul Blackburn, who added board’s thanks to the agency representatives present at the July 7 meeting.

“You are all carrying a lot of the load in this community,” he said. “We are proud to be connected to you and what you are doing.”

To that end, the Hood River News reminds all non-profit organizations in the county looking for volunteers to submit information on their needs to our on-going “Getting Involved” column, a resource for people in the community to know where to turn to take their turn.

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