Life After Extreme Makeover Home Edition

If you live in or anywhere near Berks County, you were recently inundated in press coverage of the Extreme Makeover Home Edition TV reality show that took place in Tilden Township.  All the local media clamored to broadcast even the smallest bits of information about the event.  It was the talk of the town.  I actually know someone who bumped into Christie Brinkley.

But now the dust has settled on Hex Highway.  The big bus has whisked Ty Pennington and his crew off to their next TV show. The volunteers who did the impossible – built a house from the ground up in one week – are back at their day jobs. And the recipient of all this generosity, a Berks County mother and her daughter, have a new home.

Wouldn’t it be nice if this kind of enthusiasm, generosity, and spirit existed on a daily basis, without the lure of a TV show to infuse life into our communities … if people were passionate about helping people … if we gave more than we received …

Hey, wait a minute … that does exist here.

I don’t know a single soul who does not give freely of their time and resources to help those less fortunate.  Whether it’s a neighbor in need or an organization that touches hundreds of lives through its volunteers, there is a silent army of Berks Countians that asks for nothing more than to see someone in need doing a little better at the end of the day, thanks to their volunteer efforts.  For these volunteers, there are no TV appearances, no press, no big bus, just a heartfelt passion that goes largely unnoticed except by those in need who have experienced firsthand the work of our county’s myriad volunteers.

Consider this.  Last year alone, The Reading Hospital and Medical Center’s 1,000-plus volunteers (including teens) contributed over 180,000 hours of volunteer work.  Over 5,000 Berks Countians supported The American Cancer Society.  The Children’s Home of Reading has over 50 volunteers, some of whom are active on a daily basis.  On any given day, both The Animal Rescue League and The Humane Society have up to fifteen volunteers on duty.

Our volunteers touch tens of thousands of lives every day, without the lure of an appearance on national TV.  Outside of the local weekly papers who diligently recognize local people, we don’t hear much about regular folks serving the community.  Their acts are no less grand than those orchestrated by a TV reality show or by celebrities with “local ties” to the area, and, in my opinion, they are far more newsworthy.

It is a rare person who gives without expecting something in return, and the act of giving is certainly not rare in Berks County.  Sometimes, though, it takes a big voice to be heard.  It’s hard to compete with the glitz of a national TV program.  But, I ask you, if one project merits this deluge of coverage, what do the thousands of Berks County volunteers and the people whose lives they touch deserve?

If you have a volunteer story that needs to be told, I urge you to contact your local newspaper, radio station, and TV station.

Let’s spread the word that Berks County is more than just a flash in the pan of reality shows.


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