The New Volunteerism Project

The Archival Collection of
Ivan Henry Scheier

Section V

Once Volunteering Was for Dreamers
Poems and Quotations in Celebration of Volunteering
Assembled by Ivan Scheier and Nancy David

Once, Volunteering Was for Dreamers…
Then and Now
The Volunteer Song
 Additional Poetry by Ivan Scheier

Voluntas, The Center for Creative Community
Limited Edition, 1994


Once volunteering was for dreamers. Is it still? Are we cherishing the legacy? After all, vision is not a competency. And "professionalism" seems to be possible with a cold heart.

A little more concentration on the mechanics and we could lose our soul.

This little book is a reminder of our soul. Perhaps it will grow with a page from you.

Let no dream die,

Ivan Scheier

"The purpose of VOLUNTAS: The Center for Creative Community, is to stimulate creative, expansive, and practical dreaming about volunteerism, and in so doing to help people and societies use their individual and collective strengths to build a better, more humane world."
Mission statement, December 1990

Once, volunteering was for dreamers…

We were – and some still are -- pioneers in compassionate enterprise.

It was the way we

Got good things done before there were big

Budgets or bureaucracies.

Once, volunteering was a legacy…

It was an inheritance from family, friends, or

Faith, an unself-conscious way of living out

Basic values.

Volunteer was just the way we were, a private matter of public consequence.

Once, volunteering was a power.

We didn’t react to trends, we CAUSED them.

We didn’t supplement staff, we CREATED them

Politicians didn’t use us; we used them.

And we made dreams happen.

Once, volunteering was for dreamers.

May it soon be so again.

Ivan Scheier

Nothing happens unless first a dream… Carl Sandburg

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has….. Margaret Mead

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

George Bernard Shaw
From Man and Superman
Dedicatory letter

…true peace, the high and bidding peace that passeth all understanding, is to be had not in retreat from battle, but only in the thick of the battle. To journey for the sake of saving our own lives is little by little to cease to live in any sense that really matters, even to ourselves, because it is only by journeying for the world’s sake – even when the world bores and sickens and scares you half to death – that little by little, we start to come alive.

Frederick Buechner
"The Sacred Journey"

Confucius at His Retreat
"Clearly goodness is not necessarily rewarded with acceptance. To concern oneself only with acceptance is not to look into the distance. To learn and unceasingly endeavor, does not that give satisfaction? And if companions come to you from far away, is not that too a ground for rejoicing? And to not grow embittered if people do not applaud you, is not that too noble? I will not grieve that everyone does not know me; I should grieve only if I did not know the others."

Quote from Confucius
Contributed by James Holmstrand
Boulder, Colorado

I have a dream…Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage. Thucydides (460-400 B.C.)

We make the path by walking…Antonio Machado

We search
On our journey
For a self to be,
For other selves
To love,
And for work to do.

Frederic Buechne
"The Sacred Journey"

To mean something
In the world
Is the deepest hunger
Of the soul
Deeper than any
Bodily hunger or thirst

Gisela Knopka

I don’t know who—or what—put the question. I don’t even remember answering. But as some moment I did answer YES to someone—or something—and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in surrender, had a goal.

Dag Hammarskjold

We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims…Buckminster Fuller

We are not made wise by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future…George Bernard Shaw

I believe that democracy can survive if volunteering does….Harriet Naylor

Then and Now

Patricia Annear, a poet, has been for many years a volunteer coordinator in the State of Michigan Department of Social Services. She also does a great deal of volunteering on her own.

It’s classified now
Like Neighborhood Watch
That once was
The neighborly thing to do.
It’s like an event now,
Like Toys for Tots,
Tossed in a box,
Given to children that Santa’s never seen.
It’s official now, a program.
Title for all to understand.
Grants are rolling in
For the latchkey, the keyless, kids.
It’s written. The guidelines are clear.
Success is measured
By prize-winning points
To professional volunteers.
Something was lost
In the attainment
Of specific goals.
The spirit…the dream?
An undefined loss
Lingers in the boardroom.
Still, we proceed,
More efficient than before.
The goodwill exists, despite regulation
And the remains
Of yesterday’s pizza
In the drop-off bin.

 Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty

…is a purple sticker blossoming on bumpers, doors and windows, and the front door of the "dream factory" at VOLUNTAS. Created by Anne Herbert, the phrase is meant to encourage and celebrate "guerrilla goodness" – another great phrase! (You mean you can actually help people without being in a program?)

Excerpts from an accompanying brochure:…"I’m paying for myself and the six cars behind me" she says with a smile, handing over seven commuter tickers"… then there’s the man who plants daffodils along the roadway, his shirt billowing in the breeze from passing cars …or in Chicago, a teenage boy is shoveling off his driveway when the impulse strikes: what the hell, nobody’s looking, he thinks, and shovels the neighbor’s driveway, too …or waving someone on at the intersection …or smiling at a tired clerk …or…as the brochure says: "Like all revolutions, guerrilla goodness begins slowly, with a single act. Let it be yours."

The Volunteer Song

Written by Paul Horrisberger, an outstanding volunteer coordinator and musician, with Dick Kimmel. The message is wonderful and so is the song, reprinted here with permission.

By: Paul Horrisberger, Dick Kimmel

Get involved in your community,
Help to make a better way…
The pay is great for giving freely,
Solve the problems of today…

Volunteer for your community,
Volunteer it feels fine.
Help create a bright tomorrow.
Give some money or your time.

Volunteers can feed the hungry,
Help the lonely find the way
Volunteers can make the difference,
Solve the problems of today.


Give yourself a new beginning
Take a chance and you will find…
Volunteering is like getting,
A brand new state of mind.

Click Here to play side A - The Volunteer Song
Click Here to play side B - The Volunteer Song

A cassette of the song can be purchased from:
The Volunteer Center of the YMCA
1401 S. Riverfront Dr.
Mankato, MN 56001
Fax: 387-2522


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Ivan Scheier
607 Marr
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, 87901
Tel (505) 894-1340

For comments and editing suggestions please contact Mary Lou McNatt