Get off your duff!

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 29, 2006

A couple of weeks ago while covering the Murfreesboro Exchange Club as they dispersed their funds, one of the former members told me something that opened my eyes a bit.

“There is a generation that doesn’t want to join civic clubs,” he said.

The statement took me aback for a moment. I knew immediately that the generation he was talking about was mine.

In some way I took offense and I wanted to get defensive, but after thinking it over for a moment, I knew he was right.

There is a certain selfishness that is associated with the younger generation.

We’ve grown up in a materialistic world filled with everything one would want.

Many of our elders, I’m sure, picture us as Internet addicted mall rats that don’t know how to dress, and are in desperate need of glasses because we’ve ruined our eyes by watching too much television

If my grandmother only knew, she would roll over in her grave and say, “Get off your duff.”

We’ve never had to look far for some sort of entertainment. Our lives are filled with many distractions like television, the Internet, iPods, video games and the list goes on.

Not to say that these technologies haven’t improved some aspects of life, but with these we have lost the idea of a local community.

With all the time spent focused on what we want, we have forgotten about what we need.

When these clubs were founded many households were lucky to have a radio. The only source for knowing what was going on was through their community.

Many of the civic service clubs were formed for social reasons, but the end result was more important, to improve the town or neighborhood they were in.

Millions of dollars are given out to communities through civic clubs for projects, scholarships and fundraisers.

Throughout its history in Murfreesboro the Exchange Club helped the community considerably.

They have given to needy families during Christmas and promoted patriotism through passing out flags at parades.

One of their biggest accomplishments was help with the reinstatement of Chowan College in 1949.

The responsibility for the survival of these clubs should not just be on the younger generation. The current members of these service clubs need to reach out to the younger generation and not just though scholarships.

The members need to recruit new members by making the clubs appealing to the younger generation.

The members need to reinvent the clubs so they’re not as stuffy and discriminatory as some of the younger generation believes.

Ah, yes, we have our perception of you too.

But here’s a tip, usually where one young person goes, others will follow. If not many more of these groups like the Exchange Club could fold.

The possible demise of service clubs could mean the demise of volunteerism and charity as we know it.

I fear the future where there is no volunteerism. A future were there is no time for food drives and blood drives. A future where everyone is so caught up with themselves that they don’t realize what is happening to their own community.

Oh, wait, that’s not the future, that’s the present.

Perhaps if we took the time to just volunteer some time for our community things would be better.

It is easy to forget that there are always changes to be made, things to be improved not only in our communities but in ourselves. And it’s even easier to forget that we are responsible for what goes on in our communities.

While reading the 50th anniversary pamphlet for a little background on the Murfreesboro Exchange Club, I came across this quote by Albert Schweitzer about volunteerism.

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

I don’t think he could have said it any better.