I was astounded when my children came home from school with details of the latest fundraising event. While I have no issue with schools raising money, I was concerned by how commercialism seemed to be driving this event.
The event was a walkathon, a great way for the kids get some exercise while raising money. But the promotion of health benefits was nowhere to be seen and the standard photocopied sponsor sheet was replaced with a glossy marketing brochure depicting the prizes that could be won based on the amount of money the children raised - half of which went to a large commercial organisation, not the school.
Following my exasperated utterings, my boys announced - in unison and of their own backs - that they would still walk and collect sponsor money, but would not take a prize for doing so. After making sure they understood that all their friends would be getting prizes, I made the necessary arrangements with the school principal.
I was happy to find that there were a few other families who also still held on to the values of helping others because it’s good to do so and not because you get something in return.
I think people are less and less willing to help, even though help would be invaluable. We seem to be turning into a ‘what’s in it for me?’ society. That’s not to say that we’re not still generous, but an automatic debit to a well-deserving child in Kenya is easy. It requires no thought and it seems to absolve us of any further responsibility for community involvement.
A common excuse seems to be that we’d help if we had the time. Well, as soloists we do have the opportunity to create time for community involvement. And because we have the opportunity, don’t we then also have the responsibility to do so?
It doesn’t matter what area you choose, but picking something that you’re passionate about definitely helps and, no matter what it is, you’re helping someone who needs you.
My particular passion is rugby union. Whilst I am not saving starving children from a future of no hope as I do with my monthly direct debit, I know that our local junior rugby club appreciates the effort and help that I give them, in many different forms.
Sport is an integral part of our lifestyle in Australia and it is vital to the health and well-being of our children. If my efforts help to give just one boy a direction, then I will have achieved something incredible. I can definitely live with that.
My community involvement means that I am now at the heart of a group of passionate and fun people and getting involved in a sport that I love. I sit on a monthly committee that works out how to keep the club running successfully, both on and off the field, giving me invaluable experience in dealing with issues as well as the confidence to put forward my ideas. After all, I am a mere mother amongst a group of ex-rugby players!
Also, if you believe in karma, I’ve had some great jobs from people involved in the club. But the best thing I get out of it is the sense of achievement and excitement each week on the rugby field seeing the kids running around and having fun. Without our junior rugby club's combined efforts, that just wouldn’t happen.
So what have been your experiences with community involvement? It’d be great to know that Australia’s soloists don’t just keep the business world going.
“ I think people are less and less willing to help, even though help would be invaluable. We seem to be turning into a ‘what’s in it for me?’ society. ”