Do we really care about helping others?
● By Tim
North Aurora Days is the festival in August that brings that community together.
“Social Responsibility” is so important to community that Neighbors Magazines includes it in the six basic components that define community: governance, education, recreation, culture, commerce and social responsibility. In 2012, over 60% of North Aurora residents reported charitable donations on their tax returns totaling over $9,245,000. Add in unreported donations and the figure is closer to 83% of those who donated money, according to a Gallop Poll. Several studies of volunteer time for not-for-profit organizations indicate that about 27% (ages 16 and up) donate time. In a Gallop Poll study, 65% said they volunteered time in the past year.
In many studies the United States ranks at, or near, the top in the world, with regard to individual donations of time and treasure. Over 75% of Americans agree that “social responsibility” is an important ingredient in a successful community.
One of the most active, all volunteer, charitable organizations in North Aurora is the North Aurora Mothers Club. From the results of various fundraising event throughout the year NAMC has been able contribute many local charities, and not-for-profit organizations, including all District 129 schools in North Aurora, Messenger Public Library, Fox Valley Special Recreation Association, Todd Early Childhood Center, LivingWell Cancer Resource Center, Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry, Family Counseling Service, Mutual Ground, Herbie’s Friends (part of Fox Valley Hospice), North Aurora River District Alliance, Day One Network, Hesed House, Pregnancy Information Center, Hoofbeats and Heartbeats, Visiting Nurses Association and Youth Outlook. Many of the clubs and organizations that contribute to a better North Aurora community are listed on page 28.
What is social responsibility (SR), why is it important, and how does it impact our lives in North Aurora?
“Social responsibility is what creates community,” says Christy Tubbs, Club Secretary, North Aurora Mother’s Club. “Without it we are merely people who happen to share a zip code or geographic region. It is the sense of belonging, the sense of looking out for each other; social responsibility is the gift of helping improve the lives of those around you.”
Wikipedia tell us that “Social responsibility is an ethical framework which suggests that an entity, be it an organization or individual, has an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large. Social responsibility is a duty every individual has to perform so as to maintain a balance between the economy and the ecosystems.”
Maybe social responsibility starts at home. When you cut the grass it makes you feel good. Your neighbor will appreciate it, too. Placing a paper bag in a recycling bin doesn’t do much for you, but in a very small way you’ve just made the world a better place to live. Drop a buck in the Salvation Army bucket and you make the world a better place…for someone else. But when you step out and donate your time, that’s when you really start to embrace social responsibility.
Were you at North Aurora Days this year? Consider the hundreds of volunteers from the community that make this festival possible. Organizations like the Village, North Aurora Lions Club, the North Aurora Fire Department, Messenger Library are just samples of local organizations represented. Plus, many local companies donated time and treasure to the festival’s success.
Tubbs adds, “I think it is easy to get overwhelmed in this day and age—there are so many worthy causes, so many items filling up our calendars. I would say just taking the time to ponder on what you are truly passionate about, what breaks your heart, what stirs your emotion? Then, searching out an organization that serves that cause. That is the great thing about NAMC, we touch so many different facets of the community.
Every month Neighbor’s Magazines receives hundreds of press releases announcing upcoming events in Kane and DuPage counties. Our list of over 400 not-for-profit organizations is just a very small part of the 1.5 million registered charities in the U. S. The 62 million Americans (27%) who volunteer 50 hours per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics) says something about the culture of giving in America. Drill that down to the town level and we find a very strong sense of responsibility to help each other within our community. If national statistics can be applied, 4,000 to 5,000 North Aurora residents put in about 250,000 hours of time supporting the charities of their choice.
“Charitable organizations contribute immensely to community,” says Tim Sullivan, President of the Tri-Cities Exchange Club. “From youth organizations that help build a path for future contributors to senior organizations who give service in thanks to those who have spent a lifetime as productive citizens. Perhaps one of the greatest misconceptions is that charities exist primarily to support the indigent and poor. While important, that segment is just a slice of the culture of social responsibility.”
“All of us have the potential to be vulnerable in our lives when unemployment occurs, a medical crisis happens, aging is more complicated than we expected or quite simply, life does not go as planned,” says Melinda Kintz, Executive Director, Batavia United Way. “But sometimes we need to call upon the experts, Our goal is to ensure these services are available if/when the time comes for the betterment of all.”
Studies report many benefits of individual social responsibility: improved relationships within the community, improved communications between socio-economic classes, better education for poor and rich alike, less depression, improved health overall, lower crime rates, and happier lifestyle.
In a 2001 study, Independent Sector, a charity umbrella group, found that 84% of charitable donors said they give time and treasure because believe they can improve the welfare of others. This begs the question: why is someone else’s welfare important and why would such a large majority care?
For the many organizations and professionals studying this question, it has been difficult to pinpoint an answer. Is it for tax deductions? According to Independent Sector only 20% of households that contribute cite the tax deduction. Is it religion? Gallop Poll says “…religious Americans are just as likely as nonreligious Americans to report nonreligious giving and volunteering.” Perhaps it has something to do with gender? There is no difference in self-reported involvement with charitable activity or donations by gender, according to Gallop Poll.
Eugene Tempel, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, says their studies have found varying motivations. “Typically, people give because they identify with a cause…there are people who feel a responsibility togive back…and often people will say if they are asked by the right person, they will give.”
“I personally believe that we all have a social responsibility to do our part in taking care of the community we live in,” says Michelle Meyer, Executive Director, Mutual Ground, Aurora. “Whether someone is acting as an individual, part of an organization, corporation, church or club, we all have an obligation to make a positive impact on society while we are here living on this earth.”
“Social responsibility means doing our part to make our community a better place to live, work and play,” adds Sullivan.
Christy Tubbs sums it up best, “It’s almost an indescribable sensation—when you walk around a community like North Aurora you get a sense of pride from the people and it reflects in our surroundings. It’s the beautiful new park by the river sponsored by NOARDA, it’s the Community Sign sponsored by our Lions Club, and so much more—we love our town and it shows!”
“It seems then, we give because we are good. The part of the American character that is hopeful and generous—while flawed, while not perfect—is fundamentally intact,” concludes Albert Oetgen, NBC News (Nov. 20, 2006).