Every January people all around the world make New Year’s resolutions. It is no surprise that these New Year’s resolutions are not always effective. We make too many, or we don’t think them through or prepare for them very well. They often don’t have roots. As 2015 unfolds, I am here to share my annual ritual and wish.
Rituals make us mindful. Every ritual-----graduations, birthdays, funerals, weddings, Christmas – has something to do with gratefulness. As 2015 moves foward I am grateful for another year of good health, for my wife who is always my better half, and for being able to contribute something meaningful to my parks employment as well as lighthouse and other volunteer efforts. This article is another ritual I am always quite happy to engage in. Article writing seems to be going the way of typewriters, newspapers, hard- covered books, sit down dinners , LP records and other memories from my childhood. However for a few minutes today I am able to share a few moments once again with you, and share a passion that I hold dear and one that has not been steam rolled by the passing of time. That to which I speak is ‘Volunteerism.’ It is a ritual I have engaged in earnest since 1996 at the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Marine Museum, since 1997 with Spirit of America boating and since 2000 with Lake Metroparks. These organizations and many others in Lake County count on volunteers to survive and make ends meet. In Ohio one volunteer hour is valued at $18. Imagine if your favorite non-profit museum or park property had to pay that price to remain open daily or share county history with visitors. Imagine if the minimal admission price was doubled or tripled to cover actual costs of staffing and maintaining a site. Volunteering is therefore one resolution that can become a ritual that not only is easy to maintain but is also intrinsically valuable. It is a random act of kindness that is more valuable than a one- time donation. Volunteer one hour and that gift of time helps to sustain the mission and purpose of your chosen organization. The Fairport Harbor Historical Society maintains the local lighthouse. Less than 20 volunteers donate 4000 hours annually to open and maintain the site to 5000 visitors in a season. Volunteers lead hikes for Lake Metroparks, take program participants kayaking or powerboating or volunteer as elves for Country Lights. Volunteers maintain an Indian Museum in Willoughby and man a welcome center in downtown Willoughby for visitors. Each group welcomes help and would love to have ‘younger members’ join their efforts and share in their passions. All skill sets are welcome and the older members of these groups would gladly mentor new members. I am grateful that members of my chosen volunteer organizations shared their knowledge and skills with me. They passed down what was handed down to them to me. I can now do likewise.
As 2015 unfolds I urge you to check out the sites of the Historic Lake County Alliance for volunteer opportunities. These sites plus Lake Metroparks are just a small sampling of a resolution and ritual that can be easily sustainable today, tomorrow and in the New Year’s to come.