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As we celebrate the beginning of a new year with traditions, January is a time to examine a new vision. Whether we make resolutions or write out a bucket list, the motivation is to plan your work and work your plan. It is an occasion to reflect on the past year and focus on a vision for the year ahead.

Decision ignites action. If you have a heartfelt desire to make 2012 an eventful year, why not consider volunteer work? In the Christmas season, many people donated their time, money and gifts to local charitable organizations. Fortunately, Billings residents and businesses can continue that spirit of giving back to our community 365 days a year. Volunteering is like taking a shower: You must make it a daily habit.

Encouraging people of all ages to volunteer and serve their community is a good thing. There are so many ways that one person can make a difference, such as making a blanket or cooking a meal for someone in need.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.”

Finding opportunities to serve starts with identifying the needs of our community and understanding how interests and talents play a role. Passionate about animal rights? Volunteer at a local animal shelter. Care about the environment? Organize friends to pick up trash at a local park. Are you an avid reader? Tutor a child at a local school or library and share your passion. Want to make a difference? Serve.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” Theodore Roosevelt said. It is fascinating to learn from previous U.S. presidents, and our current president is calling on all Americans to serve in our communities. America’s new foundation will be built one community at a time, and it starts with you.

Service is about giving back to make a positive contribution. We all have something to give and by volunteering, we address the issues facing our city, strengthening our community and growing into the compassionate committed leaders our society needs us to be. There are many programs for seniors, young urban professionals and the teen populace. A random act of kindness is always carried forward.

President John Kennedy’s inaugural address of 1961 still rings true today: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

There are opportunities to volunteer with the city of Billings. City advisory boards and commissions are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. They serve without compensation, must be at least 18 years of age and reside within the city limits. To apply for any of the vacancies, download an application from the city’s website located at http://ci.billings.mt.us or drop by City Hall, 210 N. 27th St. Deadline for applications is Feb. 3.

Volunteers don’t get paid because they are considered priceless!

Angela Cimmino is a member of the Billings City Council, Ward 2. For the past 26 years, she volunteered for numerous organizations and served as chairperson for the Billings Zoning Commission, Yellowstone Board of Historic Preservation and Heights Community Development Task Force.

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