My work as the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County sometimes takes me before youth across Jackson County.
Last fall, for instance, I spoke to students at Crothersville High School about my work here at the foundation. I offered a similar discussion this spring with seventh-graders in the Leadership Jackson County youth leadership program, YoJack. The group included students from across the county.
Although I’ve been with the foundation for just more than a year, I’ve been involved in community activities and trying to make a difference for far longer. I imagine many of you, too, are involved in community work and may not realize it.
A question I ask at such meetings is how many of the students go to church and take on projects through their youth group, who raise money for FFA, who collect toys for those in need at Christmas, who raise money for the sports programs and band trips or some other school activity. They’re all involved in community projects — and engaged in philanthropy — and that’s a great thing.
Mentors such as their parents, grandparents and teachers are likely modeling what it takes to be an active citizen in their daily lives, so much so that, again, the students — and maybe even you — may not realize it.
A community project can be defined in many ways and take on many forms. Building — and continuing to maintain — the Katie Collman playground at Crothersville Community School is an example. Collecting toys for the Brownstown Cheer program at Christmas or the Sertoma Club Christmas Miracle program are two other examples.
Look around your community, both in your local community and all around Jackson County, and you can find many projects to become a part of as an active citizen.
The Lions and Kiwanis clubs come to mind. So does serving on the boards of organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Seymour, Girls Inc. of Jackson County and United Way of Jackson County. Area schools and the Jackson County Learning Center also often need volunteers.
The local United Way partners with more than 20 member agencies alone that always need cash donations and quite often needs volunteers.
You’ve likely been touched by some — Girls Inc. and its outreach to area schools, Boys & Girls Club, the senior citizens around the county, Mental Health America and others.
A more recent avenue to become involved in the community is the Vision 2025 group and partnership of folks involved with the Hometown Collaboration Initiative. You’ll be hearing more about those efforts and how we can become involved in the coming months.
There are many good reasons to become a part of a community project, regardless of how young or old.
For one, it just feels good to help other people. I think that’s especially true if there’s somewhat of the principle of paying it forward involved. You can also gain valuable skills such as teamwork and being able to take directions — and offer directions.
If you’re curious about finding a project you could work with, ask people you know who volunteer. Contact the Jackson County United Way or directly contact one of its member agencies. Ask your pastor. Or take on a project yourself. Invite others to join you.
Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The foundation administers more than 140 funds with assets of more than $10 million. For information about how you can make a donation to any of the funds administered by the Foundation or how you might start a new fund, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.