For as long as I can remember I have been involved in my community. In the early years it was Cub Scouts, Brownies and PTA/PTO. I also remember donating a couple of afternoons a week at the elementary school library where there was always something that needed to be done.

As the years passed I continued to volunteer at whatever activities my children were involved with. It seemed as though my hand ignored my brain and would automatically fly up in the air when someone asked who could volunteer. It was a long time before I realized (or maybe admitted) that I am a pleaser, if someone needs something done I’m the one who will do it and I will smile all the while. But this tends to get overwhelming and one can certainly spread one’s self too thin! Been there, done that.

Upon retiring from a job that encouraged community involvement the first thing I did was resign from all community commitments. It no longer made sense to be part of these organizations at this stage of my life. However, as quickly as I shed responsibilities, other opportunities presented themselves and wouldn’t you know it, a couple of boards that I would really have liked to be a part of approached me to join them. I amazed myself when I actually said no. Trust me, it wasn’t easy but it was the right thing to do at this time

What I now understand is that saying no not only allows others to be involved it allows an organization to grow. Without new blood organizations become stagnant and its focus narrows. New people with new perspectives help organizations refocus and enable growth in a variety of ways. It may result in growing pains but the alternative is an organization that is dying a slow death.

How many times have you heard someone say they would love to be more involved? My question is, why don’t more people get involved? Why do some simply find it easier to sit back and complain? Maybe the bigger question is why do we allow it to happen?

We’re all guilty of posting notices asking people to get involved but how many times do actually approach someone and ask if they would like to be part of an organization or an effort? I know people are encouraged to run for political offices but I am talking about civic and social organizations and festivals and events that bring people into the area and benefit our community.

Instead of being nodding heads, when we talk to someone who mentions they would like to be involved why not really encourage them? If it means hooking them up with someone you know who is involved with an activity, do it, don’t let them fall through the cracks.

The Nelsonville Music Festival, an event produced by Stuart’s Opera House, is just around the corner, the first weekend in June. I wonder how many local people attend this outstanding event? There really isn’t an excuse since organizers offer a special price break on tickets for Nelsonville people but if it is still out of your budget, donate a couple of hours and go for free — you’ll love the festival, the crowd and the talented entertainers who come to visit Robbins Crossing!

Several years ago a headstrong group of 30-somethings with boundless energy came together and reorganized the Parade of the Hills, an event that has been around for more than half a century. What most people don’t see is that this group works year around to make this four-day festival a success. I’m sure they would love some new blood to help them out.

I have not even touched the surface, there is plenty to be done and to do. There is absolutely no reason not to get involved in our community. There is plenty to be done, far more than we will ever accomplish but no job ever gets done if no one starts it.

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Judy Sinnott is a member of The Messenger’s Board of Contributors. She’s a past recipient of the Nelsonville Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year Award, a former member of Nelsonville Towne Center Board, Athens County Convention & Visitor Bureau (president), Athens County Public Libraries (president), and retired from Hocking College as public relations director.

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