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Don't miss the starting gun - Denese Rodgers

"Time," is a cool, old song by Pink Floyd, and it has a lyric that's always stuck with me: "No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun ..."

The message of the song is about how some folks get sort of frozen in place, waiting for the mystery signal to tell them to go forth and be fruitful. Sort of a musical "get off your derriere" type of tune.

Well, I had the pleasure of talking to a group of 8-year-old volunteers in a Red Cross club at Mt. Carmel Elementary School this week. No kidding, 8-year-old kids.

I don't think we'll have to worry about inertia with that group. Sandra Stargell, their facilitator, is already pushing them to be active. In her spare time, between teaching and facilitating, she also has become certified to do cultural-diversity training (that's how I met her).

I told those children that volunteering and doing good things feels a lot like having a tummy full of macaroni and cheese (best analogy I could think of for 8-year-olds).

And it's funny how volunteering and community service have their own continuum of participation. Where Sandra is at one end - leading by example and cheering along the way - at the other end, we have those volunteers who only chip in "bellybutton and breath."

Phillip Anderson from the financial institution, BB&T, read a neat, little article at the Rotary meeting on Monday about choosing to exist in either Heaven or Hell, based on the attitude you choose to bring to work with you.

I know he didn't believe I was listening, because, as usual, I was chit-chatting. But it really did sink in, because it is the same way that I feel about my job - I simply love it, and that is a choice.

At the office, we get calls all the time from the court system from people who've made a boo-boo, and the Judge has given them an opportunity to serve our community and provide restitution of sorts for their charges.

Most get directed to go pick up trash, or work at the Recycling Center, because they sound dead from the neck up when they call in to find opportunities.

I'd actually love the chance to sit these people down with some folks who truly know how to do service with a mission-oriented heart. People like Kiatana Everett, from Henry County Adult Probation, who worked to provide coats, basketballs, and footballs for families who needed some caring and a little cheer at Christmas.

Then there's a 12-year-old named Courtney Smits (www.queensforcourage.org), who raises money to provide prosthetic limbs to soldiers as they return from duty. She's twelve years old, people!

We know hundreds of people who help with Christmas. One group of ladies at Stockbridge Presbyterian makes adult-care shields for people in assisted living homes.

Getting to deal with this wonderful aspect of people is like personally knowing the tinsel that makes a Christmas tree so beautiful. And there's more opportunity on the horizon: A Friend's House is pulling together for "A Taste of Henry," and the Leadership Henry class is working on "Hands On Henry," and so on and so on.

Get to it, ya'll!

Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-services, networking, community organization in Henry County.