This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, March 3, 1993

March 3, 1993 - volunteer data project

To some people, moving to a new town is a lot of fun. They like the challenge of change. They enjoy figuring out how the streets run. They get a keen pleasure from puzzling out a new batch of faces and personalities.

Other people -- especially those folks who moved because their spouses got new jobs -- find it very difficult to get settled. They may spend long, lonely years before they even begin to feel that they know their way around, or can go some place and be recognized.

There are many strategies for getting rooted in your new home town (or county, or state). The first, and to my mind the most important, is to read the newspaper. Of course, those of you who are reading this, already know that; and those who don't read the paper, sure won't find out here.

A second strategy is to join something: a church, a social group, a school committee, a civic club, even a library. Such organizations provide a ready mix of people, with a high probability that many of them will care about the same things you do.

A third approach -- and one of the most rewarding -- is to become a volunteer.

No one really knows for sure just how many volunteers there are in the United States. A 1989 Gallup Survey showed volunteer hours totaled 20.5 billion. More important than the numbers of volunteers is the fact that many organizations absolutely depend on them.

One such organization is the Adult Center for Training, or ACT. ACT is a Douglas County literacy program, currently serving Castle Rock, Parker, and Highlands Ranch. In brief, it pairs people who don't know how to read with people willing to donate their time to teach them.

But ACT isn't alone. Throughout the county are many other worthy organizations performing a variety of useful and interesting tasks. And volunteering for such organizations can provide a fascinating introduction to the people and services of an area.

Volunteerism can also lead to jobs. It often does lead to positions on Boards of Directors. For instance, our newest Library Trustee, Sue Meacham, volunteered in the library's Technical Services Department for several years. Now she's one of my bosses.

I'm thinking about volunteers lately for several reasons. First, the indefatigable Beryl Jacobson (Douglas County Extension Agent and fellow News Press columnist) has secured a grant to gather information about volunteer opportunities in the county. Second, it happens that Suzanne LaRue, a librarian who happens to be my wife, is the project director.

Third, after all this information is gathered, the Douglas Public Library District will add it to our Community Information Referral system. People will be able to search this database either at the library, or by "dialing in" to it via a home computer.

We'll design the system so people can search for volunteer opportunities either by a subject that interests them ("gardening," for instance), or the location ("Parker"), or both.

So if you happen to work for a not-for-profit organization located in or serving Douglas County residents, and you'd like a little electronic solicitation of volunteer assistance, give Suzanne a call at 681-3405, or at the Extension Office (688-3096).

And if you happen to be someone looking to BE a volunteer, watch this space for more information soon. In the meantime, give Kathy Walsh of ACT a call at 841-8615. Evenings are best.

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