Deal on volunteering: ‘There’s a lot of need in the community’

Published 4:05 pm Monday, August 29, 2022

By Angela Cutrer
Elizabethton Star
Danny Deal has worked for more than 36 years in production planning at Snap-on Tools. Most recently, he was newly elected as the commissioner for the Fourth District. He’ll be sworn in Aug. 31 and begin his duties Sept. 1.
But Danny Deal is much more than all that: Danny Deal is a volunteer.
“There’s a lot of need in the community,” he said. “A lot of things are going on, but when you put on an event, it takes a lot of people. We have a giving community — there is no doubt — but getting people engaged to volunteer, to get the workers, is difficult.”
Deal mentions back-to-school bashes and food handouts as examples of how loving and thoughtful Carter County is. The United Way is proactive and involved and Deal’s company works closely to donate and volunteer for the nonprofit.
But it’s the process that remains challenging. According to philanthropynewsdigest.org, “a percentage of respondents [to a survey] who reported volunteering time fell to 56 percent in 2021, continuing a downward trend from 65 percent in 2013, 64 percent in 2017, and 58 percent in 2020.”
A 2018 analysis discussed “the extraordinarily high participation rates of older adults, those sometimes called the ‘Long Civic Generation’ or the ‘Greatest Generation,’ who made lasting positive contributions to American society throughout their long lives,” reported a 2018 study through the University of Maryland. Those were our grandmothers and grandfathers, and our great-grands. They lived through wars and knew how important it was for all to join in to keep a business running, a farm producing and a household able to feed itself. Sometimes it meant the difference between life and death.
Rural communities have always had a higher rate of volunteerism than urban areas, studies have shown. Historically, those volunteering opportunities have come from helping schools and churches, but as those entities were merged for different reasons, including financial hardships and rising enrollments, some opportunities to volunteer evaporated.
Though volunteerism rose sharply after the events of 9/11, the numbers fell every year afterward. Deal hopes that might change. As a member of the Friends of the Carter County Animal Shelter, he said he has seen firsthand what volunteers can do. Recently, the Friends group was able to raise the funds to extend dog runs at the shelter so that the inhabitants had more comfort and freedom.
“We raise our own money,” he said. “There are so many advantages to what one project did for this community. It helped the staff not have to move animals around to keep them out of the weather, it helps the animals be more comfortable and then it helps the community to be able to provide for needy animals. By helping the animals, the staff and then the community, not only the welfare of the pets are tended to, but needs of the whole county.”
The Friends group is now working to provide a low-cost spay and neuter clinic at the shelter, which, in turn, will help community members afford to keep their beloved pets and keep them healthy.
“Other groups have come to us wanting to do fundraisers,” Deal said. “It’s wonderful. We have things planned to get things done and it all comes down to working for something that helps others.”
Another Friends project is working with children so that the young ones understand how to care for a pet. “When they grow up, it will stay with them,” Deal said. “And then they might see the need to volunteer, too.”
The Friends’ recent golf tourney hosted 60 golfers, with 14 to 15 hole sponsors — another way to volunteer and donate help.
And it’s not just long-term residents like Deal who help the community. New residents who have moved into the community have been jumping right into volunteering, something that has warmed Deal’s heart.
“Volunteering means making a difference, filling a need,” he said. “When you volunteer, you are seeing a need, you volunteer your time and your talents, and you see an end result that you’ve helped improve something, whether it’s animals or people. It’s satisfying.
“I recently did an interview with a television station about the recent golf tourney and the reporter said we love doing these type stories — we have enough bad news. We need these good news stories much more.”
That is another thing Deal finds irresistible: Helping to inspire others to reach out and help.
“I would encourage people to find something that they can make a difference in,” he said. “And go and make that difference. Be a difference.
“We all have talents. God gave us all talents; use your talents to make a difference.”

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