The Gift that keeps on Giving
by DAVID KELLER
Rockford School Board Trustee
It was Winston Churchill that once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
While I didn’t realize it at the time, the act of “giving back” was instilled in me at a young age with the help of my parents. With eight children, my parents didn’t exactly have the money to give back financially, but they were able to give back with their time. We always volunteered for the Sunday chicken dinner at church and various other activities as a family. My dad coached several of us in sports throughout grade school.
It seems that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. From the inspiration of my dad and my children’s passion for sports, it was about 10 years ago that I began coaching them and other children in our community.
My first experience was in baseball and then many years in basketball. It certainly took time away from other things I could have been doing, but heck, I was with my children and I was sharing my talents and developing skills of so many great young kids. It was an unbelievable experience to see them build their self-esteem and confidence during their improvement from the start to the end of the season.
As my coaching career is winding down, I know that the time I spent as a volunteer coach had a positive effect on all of my players. I made a difference in their lives as they did in mine. What a gift, I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.
About six years ago, I chose to become more involved in our community and was fortunate to garner enough votes to be elected a member of the Rockford Public Schools Board of Education.
In addition to our careers, the seven board members of the Rockford Public Schools each put in hundreds of hours of work every year to guide and support our district. Each year we are offered compensation for our services and each year we decline this offer. It’s one way we are all able to “give back” to our community with our time, knowledge and services. To see the success and accomplishments of our school district and to shake the hands of our graduates and a few occasional hugs as they come across the stage every year is reward enough.
Let’s look at our community: Relay for Life, festivals, Mitchell’s Run, youth sports, church activities, community cleanup, food drives, can drives, car washes, construction projects, childcare giving, elderly care giving—hundreds of volunteers are needed to make it happen, and for all of you who have volunteered, a big thanks for your efforts. In addition, I can’t say enough about the many individuals who volunteer their time for school activities, boosters, PTO, OM, RAMS volunteers—the list is endless—your help goes a long way and is truly appreciated. Rockford would not be the great community that it is without all of your efforts.
Growing up, I never could have imagined doing what I do today. I always seemed to be too busy to give that little extra, but at some point in my life, something clicked—maybe it was Winston Churchill’s words that struck a chord with me.
If you’re one of those individuals on the fence, volunteering offers many benefits in appreciation for a gift of your time and expertise. There are many organizations that need your help and we definitely need that next generation of givers to keep this community inspired. You have the ability to make a difference in our community, and you certainly will make a life by what you give. Thanks again for all that you do.