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By Gerald F. Schnepf
Executive Director, Keep Iowa Beautiful

Every day we face personal challenges – those with fellow employees, family, home, vehicle, travel, electronics, health and many others. They consume our time, cause frustration and challenge our patience. As society advances, the range and type of challenges increase. As a result, the priority of facing challenges of our society takes second place in our lives.
Therein is the challenge – finding time to help with “public” issues that impact society in general. In other words volunteerism and public service! The key to that challenge requires you to make a life-changing decision. The decision is that you want to do something to contribute back to the society. A society that has provided for you, made you safe and secure, shared experiences for your cultural growth and given you some form of economic security.
Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt provided history with a great many meaningful quotes. No other President set aside as much public land for conservation/recreation purposes. The following is one quote that is appropriate to the topic of this article:
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
Following in that same vein is the famous quotation from John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address January 20, 1961:
“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
This is pretty sound guidance and advice from two different former presidents, different politics and during different eras. If you don’t take the challenge from Keep Iowa Beautiful, consider taking the challenge offered by these two former presidents. It’s time to commit to making this country better – not by asking for more public funds/programs but by getting involved in projects that enhance and improve your neighborhood and/or community.
Once you have made the decision to provide some level of time (your choice) for volunteer work you will need to do a self assessment. That self assessment can help answer the second question of, “where can I provide time and share my talent that will give a high return to society?”
April is Keep Iowa Beautiful month – it is a great time to accept the challenge offered by these former presidents and by Keep Iowa Beautiful: find a project that needs your talent and time. One that will enhance and improve your area. Then, agree to volunteer and accept the Keep Iowa Beautiful challenge. Your reward will be the great feeling of contributing to society and an overwhelming sense of pride.
To learn about 67 ways that you can volunteer for your community check out www.keepiowabeautiful.com/help/get-your-community-involved at www.keepiowabeautiful.com.


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