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Stepping Up

I’m feeling a bit nostalgic this week, perhaps because my oldest son Matthew was married last Friday. His bride Sarah is a wonderful woman; the ceremony was lovely; and they have settled here in the Midcoast. All in all, I’m a very lucky “MOG,” or Mother of the Groom. But still, these milestones can cause a few wistful pangs.

I think it was this sense of sentimentality that caused me to pull over at the Camden Fire Station yesterday when I saw a bunch of local Cub Scouts gazing raptly at a fire engine. There they were, listening pretty intently, while a very patient member of Atlantic Engine Company No. 2 told them about fire safety. Not only was my son Matt a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and eventually an Eagle Scout, but he was a member of the same group that was eyeing the shiny red truck -- Pack 200.

A line of learners.

I feel fortunate that I was involved in Scouting as a kid, and spent many years as a Den Mother for Pack 200.  What I love about programs like Scouts, 4H, the Y, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America is that they teach service to community, which to me is the best kind of citizenship.

Many religious programs are based on the concept of service as well. Last year I participated in “Mitzvah Day” at Adas Yoshuron Synagogue in Rockland. It was a day for learning about needs in the neighborhood and beyond, and I was there to speak on behalf of Midcoast Habitat for Humanity. Young and old came together to take part in something very simple and yet profound: serving the needs of others.

Nowadays, schools also teach the value and importance of giving back, although this wasn’t a focus when I was a kid. Nevertheless, community service has always been at my core. Perhaps it began in those early years of girl scouting, when we pledged “on our honor to serve God and our country, and to help people at all times.” I don’t recall whether we ever visited the local fire station, but I remember making trips to the nursing home, donating toys for needy children, and writing letters to soldiers overseas. We tried to follow the slogan “Do a good turn daily,” even as we built campfires, twisted macramé belts, and – yes – sold cookies.

Being a good citizen is about stepping up and helping others. How fitting that our young Cub Scouts were learning that lesson yesterday, on September 11, a day when we paused to remember the brave men and women of Washington D.C., New York City, and Shanksville, PA, as well as the many rescue workers and ordinary folks who gave their lives trying to save them.

All of us are enriched in one way or another by the selfless deeds and good turns of our fellow citizens. Thank you to those in our community who go above and beyond.


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