Judging from the activities in our community, it appears volunteering is alive in well whether it is an organization or an individual doing the volunteering. While various clubs have seen numbers dwindle in recent years, volunteering to help with projects and services continues to at least remain steady.
There’s no doubt more volunteers are welcome and in some cases present volunteers have increased their volunteer hours to meet local demands. But, a good nucleus of young volunteers has stepped up to the plate to help. It’s heart-warming to see local youth aiding and working along with adults on common projects that range from local campaigns to even national or international causes.
However, in today’s world there seems to be somebody out there always wanting to put a damper on goodwill. That was case in Robbinsdale, Minn., where the American Humanistic Association is threatening to sue an elementary school for participating in an effort to feed hungry children in Haiti.
Last month first, second and third graders joined hundreds of others from the community at a church to help pack food boxes to feed the hungry children in Haiti. The program was run by Feed My Starving Children, a Christian nonprofit and the church served as a center to pack that organization’s food boxes. Both the FMSC, church and school had taken steps to enable the involvement of public school children without exposing them to religious views.
A normal prayer at the end of the packing was not held and all religious symbols had been removed from the packing room. The school principal wrote in a letter to the parents, “The purpose of this service learning activity was to teach our students civic responsibility and provide opportunities for our students to become active positive contributors to society.”
It was even pointed out that students were not required to participate in the program and offered other alternatives for those students.
An attorney for the Humanist group notified the school they objected to a public school encouraging its students to participate in a program run by a religious organization contending it’s in violation of the First Amendment principle of church-state separation and if the program continues they will consider suing the school to stop it.
It appears now attorneys may be doing battle. Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm which specializes in religious liberty cases, has offered to defend the school free of charge. The firm contends “The Constitution does not prohibit students from cooperating with a religious organization to help starving families, which is not any sort of government endorsement of religion.”
I’m glad I’m old enough to recall when life (or volunteering) was simple.
RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register.
Counting up the years changes with time
Age is a funny thing. Come to think of it, at my age it ain’t so funny.
It takes a little effort, but we can recall we couldn’t wait to turn 5 so we could start school. Then the next step was 13 and we were now a teenager. The age of 16 was the big one and a downer for our parents because we were now eligible for a driver’s license.
Along came 21 and all its adulthood pluses and consequences that marked somewhat of a big landmark in our life’s aging cycle. The age of 25 was a one where maturity began to set in and we were recognizing it’s time to get a little more serious about life.
A far-off 50 was looming on the distant horizon, but doggone it, it came much sooner than we expected! And with that “magic age of 50” we recognized there was no “magic” in 50. With it came the realization we started to have a few sore muscles and eyeglass lenses needed to be changed more frequently than in the past.
As age continued to advance we notice when people were questioned about their age they would reply not in full years, but in more precise terms. “I’m 72 and a half” or “75 and one half.” Comments such as, “Will be 85 in three months,” were common. Then answers switched to, “I’m 93, but will turn 94 in just a few days.” All were common responses from those senior citizens, who in most cases proudly reveal their age and politely sidestep the question of slowdown.
We’re being told that in another decade centurions will be common in our society. Where does it go from there, who knows? But, it should be good business for the birthday candle manufacturers, or troubles for a fire department. *** I was happy a Nebraska Legislative Committee killed a bill that would have allowed the university to withhold the names of finalists seeking the position of president, vice president and chancellor from public record searches. Under current law government bodies are required to disclose names of the top four. The legislative committee said basically that transparency outweighs secrecy.
The University Nebraska Board of Regents contended in order to draw top talent those candidates needed to be assured their identities would not be publicly released thus jeopardizing the candidate’s present job.
The way I see it, most Nebraska legislators have worked pretty hard in the past to protect public records, open meetings, transparency and accountability. The legislature has recognized the public’s right to know is pretty important.
Because of the computer, citizens all across our nation have seen increase in challenges to their right to know. “Private” email accounts and social media methods seemed to be a popular method for government officials to attempt to skirt public scrutiny.
The New Jersey bridge incident comes to mind as well as those electronic “private memos” utilized among government officials via their private email accounts in order to discuss bids, departmental actions, etc.
As the size government continues to grow and more funding will be demanded from the taxpayer, it will be vitally important for the public to have a right to know and for politicians to discover transparency trumps secrecy. *** Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.
RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register
Unique Valentine’s Day gift a challenge after 50 years
Valentine’s Day snuck up on me and I assume I was like many husbands and found myself in an uncomfortable situation. It was a situation where a week before the big day I had no idea what kind of gift to pursue.
While a guy doesn’t want to forget Valentine’s Day, that special day presents a problem for the betterhalf and me. After 50-plus years of marriage the Valentine gift list of new options has been shortened considerably and to find something new and different for gifting proves difficult.
I tried to solve the problem by reading the Sunday newspapers and viewing what gift options were being advertised. I thought the advertisement suggesting stuffed toys might not go over too well. Another page suggested a new sewing machine and I guarantee you that would be a laugher in our household.
Other gift ideas suggested a single serve brewing system. But, why would the betterhalf want a single brew coffee maker when she drinks more than one cup? And besides, since I am generally the first one up in the morning I start the automatic coffeepot for her so she has brewed hot coffee waiting for her in the kitchen. Chocolate-dipped strawberries might have been a good suggestion, but again the betterhalf wants to keep slim.
How about sleepwear, or what was advertised as “intimates?” In our early years of marriage I thought that was a great idea – until she opened her gift and promptly put that “frilly” in her dresser drawer where it was never to exit until the tiny garment was tossed out several years later. I always wondered if some sanitation driver’s wife was the benefactor of that never worn “intimate.”
Kitchen appliances, slippers were out. Fresh flowers have bailed me out on many Valentine’s Days, but this year I just wanted to be different. Newspaper Valentine Love Line messages were not my style, although I thought I might be able to get a professional discount from the local publishers.
After a day or two, I resolved my dilemma. I would give her plastic – commonly known as a credit card – and let the betterhalf do the gifting of her own choice. I announced my decision to the betterhalf prior to Valentine’s Day just to make sure the idea wouldn’t backfire. Well, it didn’t exactly backfire. As usual the betterhalf was already a step or two ahead of me.
Proudly telling her of my gift idea, the betterhalf responded. She smiled and said, “I figured you would do something like that and that’s why I already bought my own Valentine gift.”
I was relieved because I was off the hook and her gift made us both happy. It was a little piece of fashion jewelry and best of all, it was under $25! *** In the approaching campaign, one Washington columnist said political managers will concentrate only on promising candidates. What! Is there any other kind?
Change of mind means weatherman likely a woman
This winter we’ve managed to see the temps go up and down and at this point the weather temps seem to be stuck on the downside. The temperature’s up and down action got me thinking the other morning as I prepared to walk the dogs and was debating how long to walk each dog.
I told one of the female volunteers at the animal shelter I had come to the conclusion the weatherman was not necessarily a man, but the weather must be controlled by a woman, or weatherwoman. I based my reasoning on the fact the weather was always changing and that “change” seemed to be a characteristic of my betterhalf.
Over the years I’ve tried to follow the betterhalf changing her mind on various issues, plans and even changing long-used recipes. After the female volunteer patiently listed to my conclusion, she tended to agree. But, her conclusion was not necessarily along my same line of thinking.
“You are possibly right,” she politely said. “You also must realize most of those changes a woman makes come about because she tries to make her husband happy.”
So much for my reasoning the weather is being controlled by a weatherwoman. That weatherwoman, or if you rather believe, a weatherman, certainly hasn’t made too many of us happy thus far this winter. ***
We now live in the world dominated by smart phones. If you think the use of smart phones will subside, forget those thoughts. A father was standing outside a hospital nursery observing his newborn son moving his arms. The father was trying to determine if the son would be left or right handed. Finally a nurse passed by and joined the father. She eased his concern when she theorized the newborn’s movement of the left or right arm was only an indication of in which hand he would hold his smart phone and not one with which he would throw a ball. *** Have you noticed the number of legislative bills that propose tax cuts for us Nebraskans? There seems to be one major hurdle with all those tax cut proposals. You cannot cut taxes thus decreasing tax revenue, and still maintain financing the programs the state already has.
It appears to me most of the tax resolutions call for several options. Those options in reality result in no tax cuts at all for Nebraskans. Tax cut options call for replacing revenue by taxing merchandise and services not already taxed. Other options being touted include: increasing sales tax rate; taking over county inheritance tax revenue; and/or transferring state government programs so those programs are funded by our local governments.
There’s only one way to cut taxes and it’s to cut spending.
Of course, if spending is cut, you will have to decide which programs to cut. We all know what that answer. . . “cut the programs that I don’t use.” ***
There was a very gracious lady who was mailing an old family Bible to her brother in another part of the country.
“Is there anything breakable in here?” asked the postal clerk
“Only the Ten Commandments,” answered the lady.
RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register
Lawmakers shouldn’t be asked to fix all woes
The Nebraska Legislature in this short session will attempt to consider more than 450 bills that have been introduced. Judging from the list you can reach a couple of conclusions.
First, it’s pretty obvious seeing the number of bills why the wheels of government turn slowly. Secondly, people have asked the legislature to solve problems that should be solved, not by government, but by those very people or organizations themselves.
A prime example is a new legislative proposal that requests reclassification of some high school varsity sports teams based in part on their success, not just their enrollment. Those with winning teams year after year would be put into the next higher class. The bill was introduced primarily out of concern about the disproportionate share of state championships won by private and parochial schools.
I would be the first to admit it’s sometimes frustrating to have a powerhouse team win year after year, but I am not ready to concede to the idea of punishing or tearing down successful sports programs and to bring them to the level of poorer teams. Of course, that seems to have become the modern day interpretation of the American way – take down any successful program or business and make it just average. No more competition; no more striving to be better; just get lazy and be average.
The big question is if people feel parochial and private schools compete unfairly, why not request the Nebraska School Activities Association change their guidelines? The NSAA governs the rules for Nebraska schools. If a majority of its representatives feel change is needed, let the school administrators and coaches suggest the changes instead of a state legislator. ***
While on the subject of sports, do you remember when you went to Nebraska football games to watch the game? Well, some of us (I’m not included) had wives that went to the game to see what women’s fall fashions were in style.
There were no fancy suites; just sideline boxes with folding chairs. Premium-paying season ticket holders now sit were there was once the low cost knothole section at the south end of the field. Concessionaires sold only hot dogs, popcorn, hot coffee or pop instead of today’s Runzas, pizzas and ice cream.
The college football world has changed and it now has become a business instead of just a game. Capacity seating needs to be met each Saturday. TV coverage and replay screens are a stadium necessity. Good sound systems blare out halftime shows from bands and pop stars. And judging by news articles of the past week, more fan attractions are coming to Memorial Stadium and even to the new Pinnacle Arena.
The NU regents signed on for a $12.3 million project for installing Wi-Fi at the stadium. The proposal called to upgrade the stadium’s sound system and install wireless Internet throughout to meet the demands of the new-age football fan
As most of you know, I have a reputation for leaving some games early despite protests from the betterhalf. I feel these new improvements might not be all bad.
Now I can text her when I learn how to text, or call from a distance and tell her to meet me at the car.
In making the announcement about the expenditure of $12.3 for the stadium improvements, the UN public relations department may have ruffled a few feathers of students and parents. At the conclusion of that same news story it was stated: “In other business, the Board of Regents passed room and board rates for the next academic year, including up to 4 percent at UNO, up to 4.5 percent at UNL and up to 5 percent at UNK.” Ouch!
RL Furse is publisher emeritus of the News-Register