I follow the blog of Johnny Long (twitter) from time-to-time, especially as he chronicled his work in Uganda. I know that we in America have it pretty good, even with a down economy and the social issues we are dealing with and the numbers of unemployed folks in our country. We may not believe it, but if we were to compare ourselves to any third-world country, we would start to feel pretty good, indeed. From Johnny's blog posts, as well as the conversations I've had with my sister-in-law and the pictures she has brought back from her mission trips to Africa (Uganda and Burundi), I know we could be far worse.
For those of us in IT, our incomes tend to be significantly greater than most folks around us, sometimes as much as 2-4x more. If America has it good, we've got it better. And that puts us in the situation where we are capable of volunteering and making a difference. Whether or not to do so is a personal choice. And how we may choose to do so is also a personal choice. My hope in this post is if you've considered getting involved somewhere, anywhere, but haven't yet, to be a nudge in that direction.
The reason for this post is re-reading some of what Jonny wrote towards the end of last year, when he was really struggling with what he and his family were trying to do in Uganda. The fact of the matter is that even here in the United States, there's plenty to be done and usually there aren't enough folks to do it. Yes, we give a lot of money, but it's time and human energy that is most often needed. Someone has to stock the shelves of the food pantry. Someone has to pick up the roadsides to remove the litter. Someone has to work on the computer systems for the local battered women's shelter. Someone has to go to Taiji to save dolphins (a member of the SQL Server community did just that, but since it was posted to his Facebook, I don't have a page to link).
Find a cause or mission to be passionate about. Give of your time and energy. Make a difference.