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KATIE ZERR: It’s time to show appreciation to those ‘thousand points of light’

In times when most often than not information coming across my desk makes me shake my head in disbelief, when something happens that makes me smile and think this is exactly right, it brings the focus back to what is good in our world.
That is the way that I felt last night when I received a message that the Mobridge Rodeo Association had chosen Carol Lehrkamp as the grand marshal for the 2019 Sitting Bull Stampede.
Carol is that person who belongs to many organizations in our community. She is the person we see helping at fundraisers, filling in at the Chamber office when help is needed, sharing her experience with those who are just learning the ropes and helping in the background to ensure events go off without a hitch.
Carol gives her time to the community, helping to make it a great place to live.
As someone who has attended many events in my 18 years at this job, I can’t tell you the number of times that I have seen Carol there manning a sign up table, selling raffle tickets or helping to serve meals. Her name was often listed as an officer of this organization or that one.
Carol has been a major force in the Legion and Hospital auxiliaries, is active in her church, volunteers at major events such as the Sitting Bull Stampede, the ice fishing tournament and at smaller events such as fundraisers for people in need.
It is people like Carol that make small communities great places. It is people like Carol that help make huge projects less daunting and run smoothly.
It is people like Carol who make a big difference in our community. These are people who don’t ask for recognition for what they do, but deserve to be recognized.
This morning I watched a video of the announcement at last night’s Chamber After Hours. It made me smile and think once again the Mobridge Rodeo Association got it right.
Carol stands as a great example of what it means to give back to the community. She is one of those exceptional people who deserve to be recognized for her volunteer work.
In the fabric that makes up a community, it is the “Carols” who are the stitching that hold the seams together.
There are communities across the country that have people like Carol who make America great. There are many people who live and work among us in our area who volunteer tirelessly to help people who are struggling. There are people who say “yes” much more than they decline. These are the people we need to publicly thank and show our appreciation.
Listing the names that come to mind would be a disservice because someone would be left out. But if we take a moment and think about the people we see over and over again at special events, fundraisers or stuffing plastic eggs with candy and prizes, we understand the importance of volunteering and what that means to small communities.
Taking the time to say thank you is so easy but can mean so much. Showing people like Carol our appreciation lets them know we see what they do. It lets them know their efforts are greatly appreciated.
It doesn’t have to be any huge volunteering effort that will make a difference. Sometimes it is the small things that makes a huge impact.
Taking the time to drive an elderly neighbor to the store or shoveling snow for that neighbor, are little things that add up to something huge.
I think when former President George H.W. Bush said, “This is America … a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky,” he was talking about the people who don’t have to be in the limelight to shine. I believe his words apply to those who don’t have to brag about how great they are, who don’t show up only when the crowds are gathered and those who know when a comforting hug and encouraging word are most important.
I think of our “thousand points of light.” People like Carol and so many others in rural communities. I think about the faces I see at the events I have attended over the years.
It gives me a true understanding of what makes our community, our rural state and our country a great place to live.