The extra mile: We want your nominations for a new monthly feature on volunteers

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There won’t ever be many editorials from me. I believe there is nothing more out of place in a newspaper than a journalist’s opinion. This is your newspaper — a part of your community and your heritage. I’m just a lucky guy who gets to write about all you amazing people and take your pictures, and the last thing that matters is me or what I think.

But we are planning a new monthly feature, and it requires some kind of announcement. Plus, I suppose the desire to do this feature says something about my opinions or world view anyway, so I shouldn’t pretend I’m not editorializing a bit.

There is nothing closer to my heart than the selfless service embodied by volunteers. It’s a value I learned from parents who were always more interested in what they could give — even to a fault — than in what they received. It’s that most basic test of who we are that comes when we see a crisis or need, the one that separates those who say, “Somebody should do something,” from those who say, “I should do something.”

It’s a value I have seen all around me since I moved here, and it’s part of why, if I ever leave, you’ll see a team of horses dragging me.

I was recently having a conversation with Suzanne Resch — your Western News general manager — about the importance of volunteers, and about encouraging volunteerism. Out of that conversation, we agreed on an idea for a new monthly feature that will focus on a different volunteer each month.

I think, in a community such as this, the whole reason it works at all is because so many are willing to do so much more than anyone has any right to ask of them. And they don’t do it for praise or recognition. They certainly don’t do it for compensation.

I think people go that extra mile — and many more beyond — because of love: Love for their communities and neighbors, for their fellow volunteers, for their fellow human beings, and for the experience of helping them all.

We want to talk a little bit more about those volunteers, and about why they do what they do. We want to help spur a community conversation that not only celebrates volunteers, but inspires others to volunteer as well.

We want to talk about the volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance members, those who strive to be their best when your life is at its worst. We want to showcase the retirees who have dedicated their retirements to their communities, and the busy people who find time to coach or run community programs after already putting in a full day’s work. We want to hear about anyone who selflessly labors to make our communities better, and the examples are too many to list here.

We want to talk about what they give, and how volunteering connects them to their communities and adds meaning to their lives.

This isn’t meant to serve as something similar to a volunteering award, though recognition is obviously a part of it. Our desire is to make people think and discuss, to shed light on those who make this a great place to live, and to hopefully inspire even more involvement in the communities we all share.

So, please, send us your nominations. Join us in this conversation about volunteerism, and in celebrating communities that inspire so many who are willing to give so much.

— Ben Kibbey, Editor

“The extra mile,” will run in the final issue of your Western News each month, starting with the Tuesday, Feb. 26 issue.

We are seeking nominations from fellow volunteers, coworkers, bosses, family, friends, neighbors or anyone else who sees what a volunteer does and thinks others should too.

Please send your nomination, a short explanation of why you think the individual should be featured and contact information to:

bkibbey@thewesternnews.com

Or if you prefer nonelectronic:

The Western News

311 California Avenue

Libby, MT 59923.

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