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Murch: Jump in and help make a difference

August 3, 2012
Steve Murch - Managing Editor , The Alpena News

When it comes to charity or authority, some people talk a great game but fail miserably when push comes to shove. Others are incredibly generous and are great leaders without drawing any attention to themselves.

We have several of both types of people in our communities of Northeast Michigan. In the newspaper business we run into a lot of the former - great talkers, very little follow-through - and very few of the latter. It's easy to understand those who are generous and leaders who you never hear about - they don't want the attention, they just want to do what they think is right.

While I understand those who talk a great game, their acts become really tiresome. The problem is these are the same people (or a great number of the same people) who call us, email us, etc., looking for coverage of some kind (or just complain), then disappear when the time comes to put up or shut up. Then, after getting burned a few times, or just tiring of them and their general lack of follow-through, we usually quit even paying attention to them - call it the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf effect.

That's why I love it when people who are generous, or great leaders, or shining examples of what is right in our community let the light shine on them.

How would you look if the light shined on you? Would you be someone people would admire for your acts and actions, or would you be the person who talks a good game but has no follow-through?

We live in a time when we are trying to get 25 hours of stuff done in a 24-hour day. We are busy with 8,000 tasks and don't have time for 8,001. That's why I find those who are able to find a way to do that extra task to be refreshing. Those who not only give their money, but also their time.

I'm in a service organization (Alpena Lions Club) as is Publisher Bill Speer (Rotary Club of Alpena). I don't know about the Rotary Club, but with the Lions we have many discussions about membership. I know other service organizations also have those discussions. Finding new members is tough because some of it goes back to everyone being busy with those 8,000 tasks and not enough time in the day to do them (though some goes back to people not wanting to get involved, too).

So now I bring it back around to what would you do if the light shined on you? Would you step up and deliver?

Let's add a little twist. Let's make you omnipotent, what would you do to make our communities better?

What you say goes. What you decide is the law of the land, you have the ultimate authority and power to do so. Would you be the person who when the light shines on you it will be a light you're worthy of?

Loaded question, I know. Perhaps not even fair. But it highlights two things: One is that with great power comes great responsibility; and two, those who take on those responsibilities do it not for the glory that comes with it, but because they are trying to do what is right for our communities to make them better places to live.

We need more people like that, but we also need to appreciate them. Have you ever heard someone complain after someone did something positive? Something along the lines of "Why did they do it that way?" Well, they could have not done anything and no one would be any the wiser.

So here is my plea today: Get involved. It doesn't have to be big, it doesn't have to be long-term. You can volunteer for a roadside trash pickup, you can pound nails for a Habitat for Humanity home, you can visit shut-ins. Those types of things make a difference in our communities. All you have to do is ask if you can lend a hand.

If you want to do something long-term and get involved, find something you can volunteer to do on a regular basis. Or join a service club. There are several in Northeast Michigan, and there has to be one that would appeal to you.

Our communities are only as strong as the people in them, so let's make them powerhouses.



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