April is National Volunteer Month, a time to celebrate those who help others.
Naperville has always had a strong volunteer spirit, helping build the city’s Riverwalk, and helping to work all the summer festivals. However, some fear the volunteer spirit is no longer thriving.
Jim Meurer has been the president of Naperville Little League for the past four years. He started volunteering for the organization when he moved to town 16 years ago, even though his own children were too old to play. Now he worries for the future of the league, saying baseball parents aren’t stepping up.
“We had to work harder than ever to find volunteers to manage teams and coach teams than we ever have before,” said Meurer.
While Meurer feels that younger generations in the city aren’t stepping up, Naperville Jaycees President Courtney Brown says the volunteers are there. It’s just that younger generations are different than older ones when it comes to volunteering.
“I think that the young people in the Naperville community really do step up, it’s just a matter of finding the right place for them,” said Brown.
The Naperville Jaycees help out all around town, and may best be known as the organizers of Last Fling. The organization is designed for the young, with an age cap of 40.
“Part of our mission is to grow leaders to go above and beyond our organization and give back to the community in other ways,” said Brown.
While the Jaycees have seen a steady stream of volunteers, more than half of the members of the Naperville Little League board of directors do not have a child in the program, something Meurer would love to see change.
“I hope that at some point some of the younger fathers will see what a joy it is to work with the kids and teach them not only the skills of baseball, but some lessons of life,” said Meurer.
But for now, it looks like a small group of volunteers will be doing even more of the work.
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