Our Opinion: High school grads, your community needs you to get involved

For high school seniors, the cocoon breaks open this month.

Time to fly, new graduate.

Maybe you are bound for the military or a college campus. Or perhaps you plan to test that diploma, seeing which doors it opens in the job market. In any case, kiss goodbye to your familiar high school surroundings and prepare for life 2.0, where you are free to reinvent yourself, explore new interests or refine the ones you’ve long had but not been able to fully develop.

One suggestion: As you disconnect from your school community, find ways to be a part of the bigger community – the city, town or rural spot in which you decide to live, whether only temporarily or for the long term. Don’t simply stay in a place, trekking from house to workplace to favorite hangout. That’s being a resident, not a citizen.

The nation needs more good citizens.

Ohio especially needs good citizens, particularly young adults like you, able and willing to fill roles as leaders and helpers in the organizations that keep our communities humming. Put your passions and youthful energy to work. In your neighborhood. Immediately.

Consider, for instance, getting involved in one or more of these groups.

• Volunteer fire companies. They sometimes struggles to find people willing to respond to emergency calls. Not sure that’s in your comfort zone? Then offer to help maintain equipment, update the company’s website or conduct fundraisers.

• Service clubs. Did you participate in your high school’s Interact Club or Key Club? Continue your involvement as a member of one of the area’s service organizations: Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Rotary Club, etc. Go to the web page of the club’s international organization, then search for the nearest chapter. Most chapters are on the lookout for new recruits.

• Sports organizations. If you’re the athletic sort, why not stay in shape and simultaneously allow children to enjoy the same games you love? Become a youth league referee or coach.

• Religious institutions. From summer camps to worship services, the area’s churches and synagogues can use smart, spry sorts to help perform their missions.

• Public libraries. Do you have a fondness for good books? Libraries typically rely on volunteers to handle duties such as re-shelving materials and holding fundraising events to provide money for new items.

• After-school programs. Encourage children to do well in school, and in life, by pitching in as a volunteer tutor/mentor for programs.

For help in finding your volunteer niche, visit the United Way of Clark, Champaign and Madison County’s website at www.uwccmc.org.

There’s a place for you in your community.

Step up and claim it.