As I read the very important messages that our federal government is sending about job creation, it occurred to me that government is missing the opportunity to send another message. How about a similar commitment to the non-profit world? I watch every week at the Miracle League of San Diego as hundreds of children (ages 9 to 18) spend time giving valuable community service to help those less fortunate.
What impresses me the most about these kids is their commitment week in and week out, season after season, developing important friendships and relationships with the children and families with whom they work. I believe that at first many are motivated by the need to meet community service credit requirements of their schools or religious institutions. However, they stay and keep coming because of what they get out of providing service. They grow as individuals, gain confidence, and feel really good about themselves. This is a simple truism about giving – when you give of yourself, you get a lot more than what you give.
How can we translate this to government and job creation? For one, a common feeling of those who are out of work and have been out of work for a long time is the loss of self-respect and confidence. If we can motivate such people to spend time giving at local non-profit organizations, it can boost their morale and help them feel better about themselves. This puts them in a better mind-set to search for paid work and provides a valuable boost when positioning themselves with prospective employers. Moreover, many might find paying jobs in this sector, though likely at lower pay than to which they are accustomed. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
This focus on community service has another important benefit to society – it puts people to work where their help is desperately needed. As government support and private support for the non-profit sector has declined, the corresponding need for services and support has increased. Demand for services is far outstripping supply and there is no end in site.
So let’s take a page from our schools and churches and synagogues and encourage adults to the same thing that we encourage our youth to do, commit their time to community service. It just feels good.