Volunteers are the backbone of so many community organizations and initiatives. Many organizations depend on community volunteers to help them fulfill their work and missions. With April being National Volunteer Appreciation month, I focus on the value and importance of volunteerism. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is incredible to live and work in a community where so many individuals and organizations genuinely care about the community in which they live. You don’t have to look too far to see the selfless acts of so many community volunteers.
A great example is the excellent work United Way of Southwest Oklahoma does. You’ll see volunteers from across the area roll up their collective sleeves and get to work helping to make this a better place to live for all of us on April 21st for the annual David Hegwood Day of Caring. You’ll also see some of Great Plains Technology Center’s staff pitching in and lending a hand.
Giving back was something I learned at an early age. Every Sunday, as a child, I had a shiny quarter in my pocket to put in the collection plate during church services. As I grew and watched my folks, I learned what it meant to be a servant leader by putting the needs above others before my own, and I embrace that philosophy today. I care deeply about Great Plains Technology Center, its students, staff, and my community. My organization’s health depends on the health of my community, and so I serve.
I am fortunate that Great Plains Technology Center’s board of education encourages the GPTech staff and me to volunteer and serve in various capacities across our district. Many of our staff have volunteered to serve on the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma board of directors or on various UWSOK committees such as the Day of Caring mentioned above, Community Investment, Loaned Executives, and many who serve on boards of the various partner agencies. We have many staff who volunteer and serve in their respective churches.
Several of our GPTech family are committed to quality educational opportunities for students they serve on their community’s school boards, school foundations, and take leadership roles in their Oklahoma CareerTech divisions.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention those who volunteer at Great Plains Technology Center by serving on our Advisory Committees. These industry professionals volunteer their time and expertise to ensure our career training programs are timely and relevant.
If you aren’t already volunteering, please consider doing so. So many organizations need your hands, your skills, and maybe your heart. As I write this, I think about the story of a statue of Jesus in Europe damaged during World War II causing the hands to fall off. Rather than repair the statue, the townspeople decided to leave it as a reminder that the very hands needed to do good works and help one another were their own.
I challenge you to be the hands for our community. Volunteerism brings together people from all walks of life who share the goal of making the community a healthier and better place to live because it helps support organizations to provide vital services to groups and individuals within the community. If you want to learn how to get involved, start with your church or your child’s school, or contact the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma at 580-355-0218. Your community needs you.
Clarence Fortney is superintendent of Great Plains Technology Center.