I grew up in a house full of people. I have ten siblings, so, when we were younger, there was always someone asking me to tie a shoe, give a boost to get the cereal box from the top shelf, or help with homework. Because my family is so big, there has always been an ongoing cycle of giving and asking. Of course, we are ready to give each other money if we get into a bind, but, more importantly, we are always ready to give each other time whenever and as often as is needed. This cycle of giving and asking extends to the Seminole Negro Indian Scout Cemetery Association, as well.
I’ve been involved with the Seminole Negro Indian Scout Cemetery Association for more than half of my life. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the importance of involvement. Miss Charles always said to do the hard stuff first. Often times, that meant (and still means) getting up early or staying up late to make sure that the Carver grounds and cemetery were clean. That meant (and still means) doing weekly and monthly inspections to make sure that everything was working properly or to address an issue before it became a larger problem. Many times, these things were done when no one else was looking or even knew that they were taking place.
The Seminole Negro Indian Scout Cemetery Association survives because of passionate volunteers. Every cabinet member and board member is a volunteer who gives of their time to make sure that this organization stays active and continues to grow. They also bring their experience and expertise to this organization. Some of our volunteers know how to cook, or who to call if we need to get something done. I am very happy to be surrounded by these hard-working, kind, and giving people.
Why do we volunteer, you ask? Because we want to. Because if we didn’t do it, no one else would. Because we love our legacy and our organization. Because we are proud of the hard work that so many who came before us put into making this organization last and work. Because we do not want all their hard work to be for naught. Because we understand the importance of involvement.
The beautiful thing about volunteering is that it cannot be forced. You cannot make people give of their time if they don’t want to. It must be the decision of the potential volunteers to decide that, instead of doing countless other things, they will spend their time doing this one thing for free. Oftentimes, that time, even if it is just one hour, can make a huge impact and have lasting effects.
Sometimes the simplest things are needed.
If you are interested in volunteering, but are unsure of how or what to do. Just ask yourself, do I have a talent that I’d love to share with others? Maybe you can make a group of five year olds laugh. Maybe you can sing a crying baby to sleep. Maybe you can just sit and listen to a veteran. Maybe you can teach a group of eighty year olds how to dance. Or even better, maybe you can hammer a nail without hitting your finger. Or paint a wall without painting yourself.
Of course, I would love it if you wanted to volunteer with the Seminole Negro Indian Scout Cemetery Association, but, more importantly, I hope you volunteer—period. There are so many people and organizations that are in desperate need of your time, talent, and involvement.