I was sitting in my car the other night, watching my son practice baseball while working on a project for the kids in my religious education class. Suddenly I became very grateful for all the parents — and others — willing to take the time to volunteer to guide our children.

At Babe Ruth and Little League sign-ups, Jason and I were both asked if we would be willing to coach. Since the end of last season, Jason had really wanted to coach Babe Ruth for Logan’s last year this summer, but unfortunately, his work schedule didn’t allow for it.

I told the Little League that while I would definitely be willing to help where needed, I couldn’t commit to managing a team. I knew a shift was coming in Jason’s schedule, and I just couldn’t guarantee I could get out of the office and to the fields on time to do all that was needed to prepare for practice and games.

So, I sat there watching Colin’s coaches, feeling extremely thankful that there were others who were able and willing to coach the teams there and at Babe Ruth.

The next morning, I spoke with Becky Ingle on the OCCP production of “Tom Sawyer” and was reminded of this again. One of the things she said at the end of our conversation was that all of the adults involved in the program are volunteers, and they spend hours helping prepare each production. It’s a passion for them, and they love passing it on to the next generation.

It’s something you see over and over again as a parent. It hit me the other night with baseball. It smacked me in the face again talking about the children’s theater. Then I started thinking back. It’s the Boy Scout and Girl Scout leaders. It’s all the volunteer coaches, not just with baseball, but with so many others ranging from soccer to basketball and more, whether through a community program or something like the YMCA. It’s Sunday school and religious education teachers and so many more I know I’m missing. These people are all giving of their time, not for money, but to help pass their passion down to the next generation, and maybe even helping kids in the next generation find their passion.

I began to feel guilty I wasn’t doing more as I pondered all this — as I was making end-of-the-year gifts for my students. Then the irony struck me. I was one of the parents doing this, and yet to me, it didn’t feel like enough. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t feel like giving. It’s a joy, and, for the most part, I’m glad to do it.

The kids in the next generation obviously need their parents. But they need these other role models, too. Even if it’s not an activity or lesson they continue, at least they get to see people be good stewards of the community, willing to give of their time and self for nothing more than the simple joy of doing it. Who knows? Maybe they need you, too.

And to all the volunteers out there working with the kids, you have my heartfelt thanks.

Tracy Goldizen is the Courier's features and magazine editor, leading production of the award-winning "Ottumwa Life" and the Courier's other magazine offerings. She began work with the Courier on the copy desk.

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