COLUMN: Thanks can go a long way

Published 12:00 pm Friday, September 18, 2015

By T.J. Ray

“The Finch Egg Search Travel Committee meets this Tuesday at noon at the Beacon.”

You read that and instantly wonder “What else do I have to do at that time?” Your iPhone automatically appears in your hand and quickly shows your calendar (and quite possibly the weather forecast for Tuesday and the probable stock market projections for that day). Good, you find that you have only two conflicts with the Finch Egg Search Travel Committee thing.

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Dear Reader, if you’re wondering where this essay is wandering, the answer is it’s a mystery. At least two paths lie ahead. May I take one and then the other?

Many well-meaning folks have their names on committee lists because (a) they asked to join or (b) someone thought they would be productive in the group. Most of the time a person who volunteers for committee work attends most meetings and accepts and executes assignments from the group. In time, however, many folks come to leave their names on the roster and their bodies at home — or at meetings of other groups. Over time their memberships multiply.

Sadly, some volunteers are content with the meetings and refreshments but never go out to the site of the committee’s action, never help stuff envelopes, never work the phone lines for special events, never pick up a hammer and drive a nail. I’ve seen such a person twice at a build site, and I hope she enjoyed her view of the work from her car because that’s as close as she came to the action.

The other path I mentioned is followed by good folks who get on committees or boards and pitch in. Those teams get things done, things that might get done with greater strain on fewer members, but things that do get done because of many willing hands. Their commitment is obvious by their participation. And, judging by examples I have known a long time, when their passing is reported their list of boards don’t show up in the obituary. But as the old expression goes, their good lives long after them.

What prompted these observations is that last week an unexpected opportunity to help at The Pantry arose. I took the invitation and had a joyous day. The “thank you” one hears from people there is golden. If you get that same call, jump to it. Your heart will be stronger because of it.

Now it’s time to go plan the flight for the Finch Egg Search team to Patagonia, where two eggs have been reported.

T..J. Ray, a retired professor of English at the University of Mississippi, can be reached at