Two Cents Worth – Aug 5, 2015

I find myself amazed at what we as human beings can do when we put our minds to something.  Recently, NASA came roaring back into the public consciousness by showing us fabulous photos of Pluto and its geography and moons.  This is a formerly-known-as-a-planet that is so far away it took nine and a half years for New Horizons to reach it.  It takes four and a half hours for a signal to travel from New Horizons to Earth at the speed of light.  And now NASA has announced that it has found planets in far away systems that closely resemble Earth and could possibly sustain life.

And so when I am presented with great examples of what we can do and where we can go when we really put our minds to something, it makes it all the more disappointing when we are presented with examples of great disfunction and turmoil right in our proverbial back yard.

It’s no secret that the state of Illinois is in a deep budget hole and I’m not going to get into my opinion of who I think is right or wrong at this point and who we should point fingers at.  That won’t do any good.  I’m more concerned at this point about what the budget situation will do to people locally.

My church helps to support the Uni-Press Kindercottage in East St. Louis.  Uni-Press was founded in 1965 as a non-profit agency designed to provide services to kids between 3 and 5 years.  Through the years its services have expanded and now it serves children six weeks to six years, including kids with special needs.  Its gone so far as to help needy families with health and developmental screenings, food, clothing, job referrals, and job training opportunities.  After all, how can a child be cared for if the parent can’t find work?  Uni-Press receives funding from the state to help in its mission, but that funding has been cut off like everyone else’s.

Now I’m sure there are examples of agencies and organizations, just like Uni-Press, right here in O’Fallon and Shiloh.  Agencies and organizations that are in need of help so they can help others.  And the question becomes how can we help everyone?  Can we even expect to be able to?

Well, maybe we should ask the O’Fallon Police Department.  Could they have expected that people would come out and donate $8,600 to benefit the Special Olympics at their “free” lunch fundraiser last week?  While they probably hoped for a turnout like that, I doubt they planned on it.  But that goes to show the true heart of a community, how it works to help others.

Unfortunately, because of decades of mismanagement in Springfield, I suspect we’re going to have to get used to not only fending for ourselves but relying on others in the community to help out when needed.  We’re going to have to take care of one another, because the people we elected to do so have messed everything up so badly.

And there’s no shortage of ways to donate money locally.  The District 90 Boosters, the food pantry, any number of churches, and many other organizations could all use some extra cash.  Don’t have some spare money lying around?  Ask how to volunteer time.  I’m a firm believer that oftentimes time is more valuable than money.

I’m in Rotary and we have a motto we live by, “Service Above Self.”  Ask any Rotarian what that means to them and they’ll each give you a different answer.  But I bet you all know a Rotarian.  You may not know they’re in Rotary, but I bet you’ve noticed them doing nice things for others or helping their community.  Same with members of the Kiwanis Club, Optimists, Lions, etc.  Consider getting involved in a service organization like Rotary.  Any club around would love to tell you what they’re all about and how you can help others.

Everyone likes to talk about how Illinois, our nation, and even the world is starting into a black hole and how we all can’t imagine how things can get better.  Maybe I’m foolish, but I choose to be like that little satellite that could and look to New Horizons.  Yeah, things aren’t great right now, but there’s only one way to go when you’re sitting at the bottom.  How will you help us all collectively stand up?

Do me a favor and send me a message this week telling me how you are already working to make a difference in your community or how you plan to.  I’d like to run some in a future edition.