Today and tomorrow, as I write this, the Green Country Hamfest will be running up in Claremore, OK. Tomorrow morning, I'll be there to check out the tables and maybe pick up some new radio gear. I'll also be volunteering to help run the doors. Largely it involves just checking to be sure people paid to get in, but I'm also there to answer questions and generally provide a friendly face to welcome people in. Why would I do this? Well, let's talk about it.
The hamfest is put on for a number of reasons. It acts as a fund raiser for local clubs. It's also a way to advertise the clubs. There will be classes during the day on all sorts of radio things, so the hamfest also serves an educational purpose. Finally, it's a way for a bunch of people, who by nature of their hobby, normally sit alone and apart from each other, to get together and share some direct human interaction. It's a community. And the one thing I can tell you, from very direct, personal, experience, communities need love and attention, or they go away.
In addition to the hamfest, the local clubs also take part in assisting the National Weather Service (NWS) as storm spotters. We help out at public events like bike races. We also practice radio for emergencies (although, thankfully, we're almost never needed). We hold classes to teach radio to others. In short, we do stuff for the world around us. But, without volunteers, and lots of them, all that goes away. And while you may never think about, how is it that the NWS knows exactly what kind of damage a tornado is doing? Part of it is probably a volunteer on the radio who has been trained in how to report accurate, helpful, even life-saving information.
Now imagine for a moment, no volunteers. Sure, the modern radar can tell you that a tornado is on the ground. It can even tell you that debris is in the air, and how high it goes into the air. Scary stuff. What it can't tell you is, what that actually looks like on the ground. Is it just tossing up lots of loose stuff or is it leveling buildings? Eyes on the ground are necessary. And, the NWS can't pay enough people to have them everywhere to help report back, just how scared of a storm people should be. Without the volunteers, it's possible, more people could be hurt by storms.
Volunteers are a part of what keeps the world running. From open source software projects, to Data & SQL Saturday events, and all sorts of stuff in between, volunteers move things forward. So, I want to say thanks to those who do the selfless tasks. We appreciate that you're keeping things running. Please, keep going. Also, if you don't volunteer, think about it. There are any number of things around you that are run by volunteers. They need help or those things go away. I've seen, way too often, people say stuff like "Why don't we have X any more" when X was volunteer run, and ran out of volunteers. You are needed. Please help, somewhere.