Celebrating community spirit Featured

6:43am EDT May 30, 2003
I've been thinking about how we celebrate people.

Movie stars, sports stars, music stars and even national and world business and government leaders get their 15 minutes of fame, but we are not always celebrating what's important. There are highly publicized lists: "The World's Most Beautiful People," "The Best Dressed," "The Richest," etc., and the message being sent to the public -- including our youth -- is that unless you are beautiful or rich, there's not a lot to celebrate.

Yet so often these same stars also contribute a great deal of time and money to worthwhile causes. And there are a lot of nonstars, a lot of caring people, who do the same. These people believe that a little (or a lot of) effort can make a big difference in the communities where they live.

We don't often hear about their efforts, or if we do, it's on a much smaller scale -- a paragraph on page 20 in the newspaper or the final item on the local news, overshadowed by the other events of the day.

Alex Shumate, managing partner of the Columbus office of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, was raised on the belief that it's important to give back to the community. His community involvement began in his teens, but his story is becoming a more unusual one.

Sometimes as parents we are so overwhelmed with our day-to-day responsibilities and chores that we forget that important message. Teaching children to be civic-minded and to care about their world should begin at home, but it shouldn't end there. Maybe national media outlets should create new lists: "The 50 Stars Most Active in Giving Back," "The 50 Sports Stars Who Give The Most Time" or "The 50 People in the United States Who Give The Most To Their Community." I'd even settle for "The 50 Most Beautiful People Who Give to Their Community."

The names are a little unwieldy, but if a lot more attention were given to the fact people, celebrities and non-celebrities alike, do care and give of their money and time, maybe it would spark more people to do the same. Maybe children and teens who now look up to sports and music figures would want to become more involved.

I think it's worth a try.