Americans are big on volunteering. People volunteer everywhere, in schools, senior centers, hospitals, and many other non-profit organizations. They volunteer in local communities and on mission trips thousands of miles away.

The unmatchable spirit of voluntarism found in this country is part of what makes United States one of the greatest countries, if not the greatest country on earth now.

Any program dealing with local communities can’t be complete without talking about voluntarism and community services.

Voluntarism is the focus of session nine of Woodbury Citizen’s Academy, held today at East Ridge High School. It is our last session of learning. Next week’s final session will be our graduation and celebration party.

We had presenters and panels representing different non-profit organizations in the community.

Bill Hargis, Mayor of Woodbury, who was supposed to be at our first session to talk about city government but missed it back in February, came today and shared how he got involved in different volunteer activities and later became the mayor of Woodbury.

I have seen the mayor’s pictures in local newspapers and city publications countless times, but this was probably the first time I met him in person.

Alisa Rabin Bell, Executive Director of Woodbury Community Foundation, organizer of this first Woodbury Citizen’s Academy, said a few words about the Woodbury Community Foundation and some upcoming events.

Valerie Jones, Community Thread, gave a presentation on voluntarism. She talked about the national, state and local trends and resources.

Dick Stafford, former Washington County Commissioner, talked about the Woodbury Veterans Memorial.

Darrin Ewing, talked about the Woodbury’s Yellow Ribbon Network.

Michelle Witte, President of Woodbury Community Theater and Vice President of Arts Connection, talked about how the permanent home –  the Loft Theater at East Ridge High School – for the Woodbury Community Theater came about and the new Arts Center to be built in the near future, thanks to the $2 million donation by Dorothy Merrill.

Larry McFadden talked about Kiwanis Club, a global organization dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time.

Mary LaPrairie, talked about Relay for Life, the biggest fundraising event for the American Cancer Society.

Theresa Janechek talked about Woodbury Days as its Council Chair.

It’s interesting to learn about the different organizations and volunteer opportunities.

When Valerie Jones asked every participant to say one word what volunteer means for him/her, the following were mentioned.

Rewarding, grateful, inspiring, fulfilling, personal, long-term, learning, giving, sharing, etc.

These words summarize well what voluntarism is all about.