According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal bureaucracy that supports “the American culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility,” nearly 26 percent of New Mexicans volunteered in 2013, contributing 49.7 million hours of service.
The Rio Grande Bosque in the Albuquerque region is a big beneficiary of volunteerism. Two weeks ago, the Metro Rotary Club collected more than 50 bags of trash from a one-acre site near the I-40 overpass.
A few days ago, the Rio Rancho Observer profiled the 100-strong group of volunteers who patrol the bosque in Corrales. Fire Chief Anthony Martinez called the watchers “our eyes and ears.” The volunteers keep their eyes peeled for fires, monitor compliance with the dog-leash rule, watch for illegal hunting, and look for orphaned/injured animals.
For politicians and bureaucrats, all too often, it’s “got a problem, get a program.” But there is much private citizens can do to stand in the shoes of government. From mentoring at-risk youths to patrolling neighborhoods as part of a crime watch to protecting the bosque, New Mexico’s volunteers respond to community challenges — and save taxpayers money.