Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What I Like Best About Utah

I just read a great article in the Deseret Morning News which reports that Utahns of all ages volunteer their time more than the residents of any other state. This speaks volumes about the character of people who live here, and just goes to show that Utah is filled with good people who are working hard to make a difference in the lives of others. In this day of "what's in it for me" it is good to know that Utahns want to give their time and energy to worthy things.

I, too, was raised in this tradition of volunteerism and spirit of giving back to my community. I remember when I was 12, there was an outbreak of Fruit Flies in the Bay Area. I remember the newscasts "The Fruit Flies are Coming!" and the experts were urging all residents to pick the fruit so that it would not go to waste and also so that it would somehow encourage the fruit flies to "move along." We lived in an area known for its *great* fruit, and there were different varieties of just about every kind in just about every yard. And so, the young men and young women in my ward got together and came up with a plan to help people to pick their fruit. We spent several days in the summer going from house to house, picking fruit. We concentrated on the elderly, first, but quickly moved to other families. This was hard work! But our little group of 15 or so went along for two weeks, going from door to door, asking our neighbors if we could help them pick their fruit.

No time is better spent than that spent in the service of your fellow man. I learned this *early* in life. There is nothing better than helping someone in need. It's even better to help someone when they are least expecting it.

The other night, we were putting sod in our front yard. It was getting dark, but Mark was bound and determined to get it on the ground. And so we went for it. Within about 5 minutes, two neighbors had joined us. They brought big shop lights and their willingness to help us get a job done. Within 45 minutes, we had our entire yard completed.

We were so grateful for the help. We didn't ask for it, and we certainly didn't expect it. But our good neighbors saw that there was something to be done. They didn't ask "why" (although I'm sure they thought we were nuts to be out there at 9:30 pm laying sod) - without judgement they just came along and helped us get the job done.

This is the spirit of Utah. This is what I love about our state. We give so much to our neighbors, our churches and our communities. We understand the bigger picture of "love one another" and we get in and do hard things that are out of our comfort zone because we believe in helping each other. I'm proud to be part of that great spirit.

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