Ridgecrest is a giving community. The sense of participation and public involvement is, in my opinion, one of the x-factors that makes living here so enjoyable. (Others include the relatively low cost of living, short commutes and glorious pink-tinged desert sunsets.)
What is interesting about community service, however, is that from a purely self-interested position it still makes a lot of sense. Or cents, as the case may be. Financial planners like to speak about return on investment. This is I guess a mathematical indicator of whether a particular investment justifies putting one’s money into it based on potential returns. I would like to argue that supporting one’s community with time, effort and even money yields a particularly high return on investment.
This is most evident when talking about topics such as worker retention. This is a hot-button topic all over: how can employers retain young skilled workers? It is asked on the base and by businesses in town. I would argue that the best way of getting younger workers to stay is to get to know them and their generation. And one of the best ways to do this is to volunteer in ways that help younger people.
I am a member of the Leadership Ridgecrest program and part of the team that is putting on a series of Work Ready workshops designed to teach junior high and high-school-aged kids job skills. Mayor Peggy Breeden helped us out on Saturday. She encapsulated the essence of the experience when she said, “I am not teaching them, they are teaching me.”
And there it is. If you want to know where the younger generation is at, ask a member of the younger generation. The Work Ready kids are an intelligent, motivated bunch, and they give feedback and—most importantly—ask questions. And from these questions we glean crucial information that can be used to make Ridgecrest a better place for all generations – which helps with issues such as workforce recruitment and retention. These kids are the workers of the very near future, so knowing what matters to them can only do everyone good.
And in the interest of equal coverage, the other Leadership Ridgecrest group is presenting the third in their series of popular forums tonight. This one is called “NAMI: In our own voices,” and gives the perspective of dealing with mental illness from those who have actually experienced it. (This will take place at Desert Valleys FCU tonight at 6 and is free.) Anyone who attended the first two sessions knows they have been permeated with enthusiasm and hope; everyone there has the sense in taking part in something that has the potential of improving the community for everyone.
Ridgecrest offers so many avenues for public involvement. We have a ton of public service organizations and many charitable groups. Not to mention a thriving PACT (Police and Community Together) volunteer group, a vital Friends of the Library Organization and the list goes on and on. Volunteering is not only interesting—it’s a great way to find out how things really work—it also truly helps make the community a better place.
And there are the fringe benefits too. Each organization has hidden bonuses to have to be involved to find out about. For example, animal shelter volunteers (part of PACT) get to help animals and be around cats without ever once being wakened for a middle-of-the-night emergency feeding by a yowling beast.
Ask any cat owner, you can’t get a better return on investment than that.
— Jessica Weston is the Daily Independent city editor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the official stance of the Daily Independent.