Pilot Guest Editorial

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Greater purpose of the BVU lectures

In the past few weeks, I have attended several events to recognize and promote volunteerism and public service. The Governor, the First Lady and I have been traveling to different parts of the state including Storm Lake for ceremonies of the 20th Annual Governor's Volunteer Awards, recognizing hundreds of dedicated volunteers who have devoted their time and talents to state government agencies during the past year.

Last weekend I took part in the 2002 National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) Walk-as-One Walk-a-thon in Des Moines. The NCCJ serves to promote racial and religious tolerance and understanding through education and outreach programs, and the walk-a-thon is their largest annual fundraiser. It was a powerful and uplifting feeling to be there that day with hundreds of other people gathered in support of the same noble mission.

Last year's NCCJ walk took place only a few days after the attacks of September 11th, and the mood of the participants was somber and subdued. I stood on the speakers' platform that day with leaders from four major religious faiths, who joined together in a shared prayer for humanity.

At this year's walk, I reminded the people in the audience of just how far we've come since last September 11th.

Americans of all faiths and backgrounds are united in ways we have never been before. Of course, we do not agree on everything, but there is a definite growing awareness and consensus in America that we have certain moral responsibilities to one another, and to the rest

of the world.

And with the recent wave of corporate scandals, where America has witnessed an alarming level of destructive greed, it is more important than ever to contribute to something larger than personal financial gain.

Even in uncertain times, people can best uplift themselves by helping others, and can best demonstrate their strength by reaching out to those in need. I hope more people will take advantage of the many volunteer opportunities in Iowa.

One of the most rewarding volunteer experiences of my life has been through mentoring young people. I have been proud to work with the Iowa Mentoring Partnership to promote mentoring opportunities between Iowa adults and Iowa youth. Too many young people are growing up without enough positive adult influence in their lives, and mentoring can help meet that need.

For more information on the Iowa Mentoring Partnership, and to learn more about mentoring opportunities in your area, visit www.iowamentoring.org. The website has a list of certified mentoring programs in almost every Iowa county.

The National Conference for Community and Justice has a website at www.nccj.org. Also, anyone who would like to volunteer or make a donation to the NCCJ in Iowa can contact their Des Moines office at 515-274-5571.

For information about a variety of volunteering opportunities in your community, you can also contact the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service at 515-242-5467, or at their toll-free number, 800-308-5987.