Today we welcome Silver James to the MSW blog! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Silver in person, as well interacting with her online and she’s lovely in so many ways. One random commenter will win a paperback copy of her new release, FAERIE FIRE, coming out September 17th. Enjoy!
Some of you may remember me from the guest post I did a few weeks back about my life and career in forensics. Today, S.J. has granted me the opportunity to talk about something near and dear to my heart: Giving back. When I first started on my career in the fire and forensic services, I began as a volunteer. I had a talent and expertise. My local fire department had need of it but there was no budget to cover a position. So I volunteered. My daughter’s tee ball team needed another coach. I played softball back in the day. I volunteered. In school, the PTA or various committees always needed help. I volunteered. Church? Civic groups? Trade associations? They all needed time and talent and I shared mine whenever I could.
Don’t paint me out to be a saint. I’m far from it! I spent my time bashing my head against various walls and hidebound practices. I learned how to deal with the age-old argument of, “But we’ve ALWAYS done it that way!” But that doesn’t mean I didn’t drive home from the meeting muttering invectives and some very inventive curses the entire way. And it doesn’t mean that I didn’t consider quitting, walking away, and letting someone else worry about whether things would get accomplished. But my dad didn’t raise me to be a quitter.
My dad, who’s been gone fifteen years now, was a most interesting man. Dad was a man of old-fashioned values. Born and raised on a ranch in Wyoming, he truly believed in tenets we now consider tropes of Western literature like: A person works from can see to can’t see to get the job done, or you ride for the brand (which means you give your boss his due and you don’t bad mouth him until you quit!). Dad instilled two things in me as I was growing up—a love of reading and words and a sense of duty. If my Girl Scout troop needed help picking up the boxes of cookies or delivering tents to the local GS camp, he was always right there. If the church needed someone to serve on the board, he raised his hand. And it wasn’t just the volunteering of his time or money. He voted in every single election he was eligible to vote in. National, state, local. The secretary of the local election board told me at his funeral that Dad’s name was invariably the first one on the list of voters in his home precinct.
What brought this subject about? A couple of different things. RWA Nationals was a month ago. I attended the General Membership meeting. This is the time where the officers and board members present items to the membership for vote. Only…we couldn’t vote on anything. There wasn’t a quorum present. A quorum is the percentage of voters needed to conduct business in an organization. Those votes can be made in person or by proxy. A proxy is a legal document giving someone else the ability to vote for you. When I got home, I mentioned this to several writing groups and was shocked when I learned how many people had no clue about the process. They didn’t know about proxies or quorums, or the fact they didn’t have to attend to vote. I’d already made up my mind to run for the RWA Board of Directors from my region (under my real name, Penny T. James), and this just cemented one of my goals if I am elected—educating and communicating with the membership how important their participation is to the health of the organization.
This holds true for every organization, and every government. Exercising the right to vote is an honor and a privilege and it should be a duty! And organizations don’t run on air. They need volunteers to help in all sorts of ways. From local animal shelters to literacy programs to schools, there is a place for everyone to exercise their talents and spend a little of their time to make this old world a better place. If you are an RWA member, ballots are sent by email on September 1st. Please vote. School has started just about everywhere. If you have a child, please find some way to help your school. If you have a little time, expertise, or even extra money (I know, times are tight for all of us!), please considering donating a part of yourself to your favorite cause. National elections here in the US are November 2nd. Please vote.
And please tell me what you’ve done, do, or plan to do to give back. One random commenter will win a paperback copy of my new release, FAERIE FIRE, coming out September 17th. I’m not here to promote the book. If you’re interested, you can go to my website, www.silverjames.com, to get more info. I’m here today to play Jimminy Cricket, to poke everyone’s conscience just a little. We all have so many demands on our time, talent, and pocket book. But if we all find some small way to give back, think of the positive change for good that could happen.