Apologies for filling your in-box. So many of you are volunteers -- our life's blood. This time of year I am drawn to reread the amazing Erma Bombeck's 'So Long Volunteers.' She had a way of reminding us what is important. Thank you, Erma.
by Erma Bombeck
I had a dream the other night that every volunteer in this land had set sail for another country. I stood smiling on the pier, shouting, "Good-bye, phone committees. "Good-bye disease-of-the month. No more getting out the vote. No more playground duty, bake sales, rummage sales, thrift shops, and three-hour meetings."
As the boat got smaller, I reflected; "serves them right, that bunch of yes people. All they had to do was to put their tongues firmly against the roofs of their mouths and make an "O" sound--no. It would certainly have spared them a lot of grief. Oh, well, who needs them?"
The hospital was quiet as I passed it. The reception desk was vacant. Rooms were devoid of books, flowers, and voices. The children's wing held no clowns, no laughter. The home for the aged was like a tomb 'The blind listened for a voice that never came. The infirm were imprisoned in wheelchairs that never moved. Food grew cold on trays that would never reach the hungry. The social agencies had closed their doors--unable to implement their programs of scouting, recreation, drug control; unable to help the handicapped, lonely and abandoned. Health agencies had signs in their windows: "Cures for cancer, birth defects, multiple sclerosis, heart diseases, etc., have been canceled because of lack of interest."
The schools were strangely quiet, with no field trips and no volunteer classroom aides. Symphony halls and the museums that had been built and stocked by volunteers were dark and would remain that way. The flowers in churches and synagogues withered and died. Children in day nurseries lifted their arms, but there was no one to hold them in love.
Alcoholics cried out in despair, but no one answered. the poor had no recourse for health care or legal aid. I fought in my sleep to regain a glimpse of the ship of volunteers just one more time. It was to be my last glimpse of a decent civilization.
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