The Volunteer

Photo: courtesy of njaj/

Photo: courtesy of njaj/

So, I’ve been reading Erma Bombeck’s work. Love her humor. One of my favorites is her piece on volunteers. Have you read it? She talks about a dream she had where all American volunteers become disillusioned and set sail for parts unknown. At first, she’s happy to be done with committees, casserole concoctions, saving particular items and peddling baked goods. But then, she realizes the quiet left behind in places like the hospital, the nursing home…how those in need lift their arms, but no one’s left to comfort them or offer a hand.

She ends with, “I fought in my sleep to regain a glimpse of the ship of volunteers just one more time. It was to be my last glimpse of civilization…as we were meant to be.”

This is from 1975 and still timely as ever.

It’s a good one, isn’t it? Do you have a favorite Erma story?


9 comments on “The Volunteer

  1. Love Erma Bombeck and love volunteers and volunteering. I’ve had so much fun and met such interesting people through it. People who never volunteer don’t know what they’re missing 🙂

  2. I’d never read this piece and to me her main l idea here is that the concept of volunteerism is part of the core of a civilization. I always enjoyed reading anything by Erma Bombeck. She was not only humorous, she was intelligent and also very wise. Miss her.
    FYI the “Like” button on this post is not working or maybe the problem is in my computer.

  3. I’ve never come across Erma Bombeck, but that is a great vision of hers. Whenever I think about stepping away from coaching athletics to youngsters I stop and think how much I’d regret doing so.

    Last week a politician here (in Jersey, C.I) estimated that, if there was no voluntary sector here, public spending would need to double to cover everything that’s done.

  4. I miss Erma too! I can’t recall any of her stories to re-tell, but that’s more a product of my faulty memory! Yet you’ve sited a superb one here Marney. I agree with the comment above. My days volunteering as a GAL were some of the most rewarding of my life. Thanks for sharing Erma, and bring back to mind. 🙂

  5. Loved reading Erma Bombeck as a teen – thought her humor about family life, housework and raising children was hilarious, yet underneath it all you knew she felt it was terribly important. work. Never read her piece on volunteerism, but I’m not surprised such a savvy, funny woman would be right in the middle of it.


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