Having lived in the Winona area for 34 years and seeing the quality of life we all enjoy, I feel qualified to share what I see about the area that makes it such a good place to live, work and raise our families.
When I think about the role volunteers play in our quality of life, their importance soon becomes clear. You can see that importance even if you look at only a small portion of the organizations that are totally dependent on volunteers.
One organization that is high on my list is the Community Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. For many years they have been supplying the hospital with much needed equipment, as well as staffing front-line desks to aid patients and staff. This valuable donated equipment has helped significantly to keep our hospital and the medical community upfront and receiving national awards.
When you think about the impact of volunteers, all you have to do is to think about the volunteers who serve on the numerous Chamber of Commerce committees that work to make our area attractive to other businesses. Look at Winona County and the various cities throughout the county and the volunteers who make up the advisory boards and committees, which save the taxpayers untold amounts of money that would have been needed to function.
The county and area economic development authorities are all dependent on volunteers, as is the Port Authority of the city of Winona. Look at all the service clubs as well, all dedicated to serving others, often the younger members of our society.
Our school systems, both public and private, would function less effectively without the parents and community volunteers who step in to fill the voids which otherwise would have to be served by additional staff at taxpayer expense.
Think about The Red Cross, United Way, the Community Foundation, the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Boys and Girls Clubs, the 4-H clubs, churches"¦. The list goes on and on. I think it's fair to say that those of us who are fortunate enough to enjoy the area tend to forget all of the benefits we enjoy because of the volunteers mentioned above.
For me, as a regular volunteer, the benefit is just in being a volunteer. The pleasure in assisting someone - be it the young, the middle-aged or those in their later years - is the best feeling in the world in what I think is the best place in the world.
Harland Knight is a retired businessman, entrepreneur and dedicated volunteer.