Dr. Don Newbury

 This arena is yet another one where I claim strictest amateur standing among millions of Americans who absorb full measure of “talk radio” daily.

   My listening is typically limited to brief snippets abandoned every few seconds while   scanning my car radio dial. Most of the hosts seem “all knowing.”

   I like the way one closes out conversations with her callers, though. Her name is Dr. Laura Schlessinger. She admonishes them to “go do the right thing,” stopping short of adding, “and sin no more.”…

   How noble! On this “right thing” business, some of us are almost persuaded to join up, not now, probably, but later, in the sweet by and by—not the nasty here and now.

   Still, on the cusp of this festive season, we sense inward warmth akin to the ingestion of hot chocolate on the hearing of selfless acts of others to “give back.”

   Folks who “lock in” are spark-setters. Their humanitarian acts fan fires that make us want to help with worthwhile causes that capture spirit, energy, enthusiasm and determination. Choruses of “Yes We Can” swell up when we tackle projects bigger than ourselves. As we consider the growing ranks of others in need, a sobering thought should occur:  “There but by the grace of God go I.”…

   One such spark-setter is Jim Davidson of Conway, AR. He’s an author/speaker/columnist whose passion is to tackle illiteracy. Grim facts gnaw at him, and they won’t turn loose. He grimaces at the thought that four of every 10 students in American schools today will not graduate, and that 32 million adults cannot read a simple sentence.

   He’s committed to throwing literacy lifelines to underprivileged children ages 3-5. He and his army of volunteers are providing each of them with personalized oak bookcases, as well as starter sets of books. Individuals, schools, clubs and agencies have come alongside of a program that is conducted entirely—and funded totally—by volunteers….

   More than this, a website offers a “cookbook approach” that provides a working model for other communities. Check out: bookcaseforeverychild.com.

   The program has garnered statewide media attention, and the Arkansas General Assembly has extended a resolution of commendation calling for adoption of this initiative state-wide.

   The project includes many logical spin-offs, all of which underscore the blessings of giving back….

   Do you, as a caring individual, church or civic club member, feel the spark? The fire burns brightly in Conway, where the project started four years ago.

   It is working there, and it can work where you live.

   As you’d expect, Conway has 100 or so in a core group of volunteers, and up to 3,000 others involved in numerous ways, including donation of books, reading to children, assisting in building the bookcases and participating in Bookcase Literacy Banquets. Many of them are senior adults who’d rather wear out than rust out….

   In the spirit of the season, recipients of this community-wide effort feel gifted. They’ll likely be most grateful for their foundation in reading much later, in the sweet by and by. Right now, though, they are comforted, simply being in the presence of people who care.

   Partners in the project feel gifted, too. It reminds me of the old United Way slogan: “Don’t give till it hurts; give till it feels GOOD!”

   Giving, indeed, feels good….

   Poets have pumped out many “I am one” pieces. I like Edward Everett Hale’s version: “I am one; I am only one. I can’t do everything, but I can do some things. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

   Another rhyme, by late bullfighter Domingo Ortega, was a favorite of President John F. Kennedy. “Bullfight critics ranked in rows, crowd the enormous plaza full, but only one is there who really knows, and he’s the man who fights the bull.”

   These are but words. Action is stronger. It is the season to give. If you feel the spark, do the right thing. The key of literacy unlocks the world….

   Dr. Don Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.