During major tragedies, publicity about volunteerism often takes center stage.
Among events that come to mind are the floods of 2008 and the March tornadoes that swept through Southern Indiana. For the latter, thousands of Hoosiers responded within the first week (and are still going strong), showing their love for their fellow Hoosiers by picking up rubble and rebuilding homes and businesses.
The same kind of love for neighbors presented itself in the aftermath of the summer slaughter of Sikhs in Milwaukee.
Hoosiers rallied behind their Sikh brothers and sisters, sharing their love for their neighbors and the expressions of good will from their own faith backgrounds.
Though it was 51 years ago when President John F. Kennedy urged Americans, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,’ the acts of service to tornado victims and the outpouring of good will to our Sikh brothers show that his message still resonates. When Kennedy spoke of a love for the country we share that is exemplified by service, he delivered a message that transcended political and religious boundaries.
We know it transcends because service and volunteerism happen every day beyond times of conspicuous need. We should never forget the time, sacrifice and love Hoosiers share every day when you see a volunteer in your local hospital, food bank, shelter, victims assistance facility, local school, blood drive, YMCA and Boys & Girls Club, or someone undertaking valuable service projects through Kiwanis, Rotary or any of the other great civic organizations.
Why do people step forward to serve? In Indiana, it is evident that people love their fellow Hoosiers and want to get involved in something bigger than themselves.
Great faiths give that gift to many, and offer it to all. The rewards are plentiful.
Recognizing these integral contributions to communities, Gov. Mitch Daniels created the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) in 2005. The first of the OFBCI’s twin pillar missions is to connect faith-based organizations and nonprofits with state agencies that have opportunities to partner in meeting human needs. The second is to lift up service and volunteerism as a cultural attainment.
The OFBCI invites you to join in as we work to lift the spirit and culture of service and volunteerism. This year’s effort includes a partnership with The Polis Center’s SAVI Community Information System to host the premier event for faith-based groups and nonprofits seeking to do even greater good: the Governor’s Conference on Service and Nonprofit Capacity Building.
The conference will be at the Marten House in Indianapolis, and the OFBCI encourages you to get more information available at www.savi.org/conference.
Complementing the conference, Daniels has invited his agency heads to meet directly with faith leaders from Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Sikhism, as well as nonprofit leadership at his Human Needs Summit. As times are tough and budgets get tighter, especially budgets dependent on funds from Washington, we should prepare to serve together as never before. Faith groups offer something government cannot, but both state and faith have a common purpose in mitigating suffering, healing lives and helping families in need. Partnering with those already disposed to serve only makes sense.
As we look around our communities, we must recognize that there are Hoosiers in need and that some are our neighbors. Resist the temptation to look the other way by saying, ‘Someone else, like government, will take care of them.’ Get involved and serve something bigger than self. For more information, please visit in.gov/ofbci/ volunteer.
By Jim Huston
Jim Huston is the director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives for the state of Indiana.
copies from the Indianapolis Star 09/29/2012, Page B03