In Lakewood, we have reduced our program and service at the margins. The good news is that “the margins’ means we have and will continue to focus on service excellence at our core mission: Public Safety (police, fire, Emergency Medical Service), Public works (streets, parks, water, sewer and refuse), Building and Housing safety, Economic Development and Specific Human Service programs. All of these must and will focus on the greatest good for the greatest number of citizens.
But what about the smaller specific programs that serve a smaller number of citizens? The honest answer is that these services are at risk if we continue to rely on government as the answer. These services include snow shoveling, back yard refuse pick up, and lawn care for some senior citizens. It could include transportation as RTA shrinks. Other services include social support for dislocated families. Some of our nonprofit social support agencies such as Lakewood Community Service Center, which provides food and shelter for needy citizens, reports a disturbing trend of seeing past volunteers who are now their clients.
Lakewood is fortunate. We do not have to look far to see needs or travel far to help. It is not hard to spot someone in need. The need could exist with a senior citizen on you block who needs an occasional ride to a medical appointment. It could include a neighbor with a physical limitation who may need occasional help with lawn care, snow removal, bringing the refuse container to/from the street, or some basic house repair. It could be more formal by volunteering at one the local service providers listed on the city’s web page.The needs are growing, and the resources are scarcer than ever. This trend will not lessen for years to come, if ever.
Each of us who are more fortunate have an opportunity to help. Government is not the answer in many of these needs. Government, can, and in Lakewood’s case, will help match needs with helpers. Neighborhoods are made by neighbors.
Volunteer Lakewood is an attempt to create awareness of local needs. You can be a solution: low cost and very efficient. Start with http://www.onelakewood.com/volunteer/
Check out the list. Find a need that makes sense for you. Give it a shot. Please.