It is rare that we pause long enough to think about the impact our actions will have on organizations and other people We are always in a hurry, scurrying from one place to the next. Jumping from one task to another in a blink of an eye. We volunteer here. We volunteer there. Our lives are go, go, go! There usually isn’t time to pause, think, and reflect.
During a recent conversation I shared with an acquaintance that I was volunteering at our local PBS station answering the phone during the fall pledge drive that night. He looked at me puzzled with a hint of disgust and he said:
“Does answering the phone for PBS really make a difference?” He went on “I know you want to impact the community, but I don’t see how volunteering at PBS makes a difference. Do you think it really makes an impact?”
My moment to pause and think had arrived. It wasn’t planned. It was forced. For the next few seconds I started questioning everything that we have done over the last 3+ years. Does the work that we do make a difference? Are we checking off the box and serving just to say that we did? Is there meaning in what we do each and every week? Although only a few seconds had passed, it seemed that I was deep in thought for minutes, maybe even hours. I then responded with a question:
“Can you imagine a world without Big Bird, Elmo, and Mr. Rogers?”
The gentleman I was talking with was around my age (late thirties). That means he grew up in the late 70s/early 80s and he was probably a child of Sesame Street. He smiled, as if he was reminiscing, and said, “No, I can’t.”
You see, Big Bird and all of the great characters of Sesame Street (Cookie Monster was my favorite) played huge roles in our development as children. They taught us how to count, the alphabet, how to be good friends, how to get along with others, and so many other things. Sesame Street was a home away from home for me, my acquaintance, and children all over the world.
Elmo was introduced in 1985 and became very popular in the 90s. As a parent, I owe a lot to my friend Elmo. Kelsi fell in love with him, his toys, and his movies. More than 30 years after its creation, Sesame Street was positively impacting my daughter. The lessons she learned were important, real, and relevant.
Mr. Rogers was one of my heroes as a child. He taught me how to be a good neighbor, how to care for others, and how to give. He was the epitome of kindness. He impacted the lives of millions of children during his 33 years on television. It was truly a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
PBS television made all of this possible. These shows, the amazing characters, and the life-changing lessons would not have existed without public television. So yes, answering the phone for PBS makes a difference. It makes an impact on our community. Without pledges and donations, PBS could not provide educational and entertaining programming. Without volunteers, PBS could not manage the amount the incoming calls. That is how I helped. I answered the phone during the late night shift of the Fall pledge drive. Each call only took a few minutes, but each resulted in a pledge that is extremely important to the success and survival of PBS 39 in our area.
I would encourage you to see how you can support your local PBS station. Make a pledge. Volunteer some time. Become a member. Just get involved. Help ensure that future generations get to experience the life-altering programming of PBS. Can you imagine a world without Big Bird, Elmo, and Mr. Rogers?