​Community Chest Sets $110,000 Goal; Volunteering Whys and Bewares

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
More than 40 people turned out for the Oct. 4 Sewanee Civic Association dinner meeting. Following the business meeting, cofounder of Housing Sewanee and community outreach leader Dixon Myers talked about the whys and bewares of volunteering.
Vice President Brandon Barry updated the membership on the Sewanee Community Chest fund drive. The Community Chest received 29 applications with requests totaling $160,300. The SCA hopes to honor 24 of those requests, setting a goal of $110,000. Several new projects are slated to receive funding this year.
The annual Community Chest supports programs and organizations that make the quality of life richer in Sewanee and the surrounding vicinity by providing food, books, child care, promoting animal welfare and so much more. This year’s campaign will feature stories celebrating donors, Barry said. Mail contributions to P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375 or visit www.sewaneecivic.org.
The SCA also sponsors Sewanee Classifieds, an email based subscription service that functions as a community bulletin board. Plans call for placing information cards throughout the community explaining how to subscribe to Classifieds. SCA’s annual $10 dues entitle members to a Classifieds subscription if they choose. To join the SCA visit the website or mail a check to P.O. Box 222, Sewanee, TN 37375.
Featured speaker Dixon Myers has served for more than two decades as community outreach coordinator at the University organizing student service programs in Haiti, for Hurricane Katrina victims, and in a New York City soup kitchen.
Myers identified several motives for volunteering including encouragement from scriptural references and a culture’s or vocation’s emphasis on giving back. Myers also identified more internal motivations like the logic of doing the right thing, guilt prompted by awareness of need, and experiences like poverty or sexual abuse leading to personal identification with those in need.
The nation was undergoing a “compassion boom,” Myers said, pointing to statistics showing more than 90 percent of Americans believed it was important to be personally involved in a cause they believe in.
Myers praised Sewanee. “I don’t know of any community more organized about its giving and how to get involved.”
Myers stressed that once an individual determined why and what to be involved in, the difficult question became, “Where does our energy flow?”
Giving the example of food insecurity, Myers pointed out the need for multiple programs to coexist. A food bank providing immediate relief needed to continue alongside development programs addressing the root cause of food insecurity.
Myers cautioned that while charity “means well,” efforts may “neglect to do due diligence in determining the economic, cultural, and emotional impact.”
He cited a food relief effort delivering millions of pounds of rice to Haiti and the detrimental impact on the market for local farmers who were in the midst of the rice crop harvest.
“People ask why I do international work when there’re so many problems at home,” Myers said. “You can’t separate the two anymore. The world is too small. You can go to Murfreesboro and find a Burmese population.”
Myers suggested parents take their children with them when they did charitable work to encourage volunteering in the next generation.
A number of audience members chimed in reporting on the success of their own parent modeling practices.
The Nov. 1 SCA meeting will feature a Chattanooga immunologist offering advice on how to deal with allergies.