So, how many of you got your haircut over the past week? How many of you visited your favorite restaurant?

I finally took the kids out to lunch on Saturday. It has been so long since we have eaten in public, we seemed to have forgotten our manners. It was a great opportunity to discuss things we “lost” over the nine-week quarantine.

For the kids, their biggest losses were baseball season, end-of-the-year school assemblies and plays, field trips and the church musical. During the kids’ discussion, I realized one of my biggest losses was time spent volunteering.

Whether it was helping at the church nursery, distributing baseball jerseys, laughing with my friends at Miracle League games, helping plan vacation Bible school or attending Rotary Club meetings, all these things were wiped off my calendar.

As the director of a nonprofit organization, I know the importance of volunteers. According to the Independent Sector, 63 million Americans volunteered eight billion hours in 2019.

Why do people volunteer? I have attended countless conferences on recruiting and retaining volunteers. If there was a magic answer, I would have every one of you picking up litter on the side of the road! But some reasons are obvious.

People naturally want to give back to their community. My dad would tell you, “Opelika has been good to us.” He might name specific people like Frank Morris at First National Bank giving him a loan for building a veterinarian clinic or Henry Stern, Opelika Chamber of Commerce president, that showed him around town.

We feel indebted to our community, and our payment is using our time and resources to make our community a better place.

Like many parts of our post-pandemic life, we must figure out how to transform volunteering. Some ways to volunteer without being immersed in a group of people are picking up litter on the roadside (you know I had to throw that in), grant writing or editing, crisis counseling from home, delivering food on someone’s front porch or contacting isolated individuals through a phone call or mail.

Just because our schedules were wiped of our volunteer engagements does not mean we have to sit idle.

The O Grow’s Farmers Market opens on Tuesday. As in years past, it will be held on the green space in front of the Cultural Arts Center every week from 3 to 6 p.m. This is directly across the street from the Opelika Police Department.

Last year, we planted a beautiful, healthy garden in our backyard. We were vigilant in our watering and weeding only to wake one morning to deer mutilating our green vegetables. It made me so mad!

This year, Wes planted acorns in our garden, and we have several oak trees growing. Needless to say, we will not have any yummy vegetables. I am very excited to have the weekly O Grows Farmers Market to get fresh vegetables, bread and canned goods.

Tipi Colley Miller is the director of Keep Opelika Beautiful Inc. and writes a weekly column. Contact her at tipi@keepopelikabeautiful.com.

Tipi Colley Miller is the director of Keep Opelika Beautiful Inc. and writes a weekly column. Contact her at tipi@keepopelikabeautiful.com.

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