No complaining about community service

By Jim Lee

I’ve been thinking about it and have arrived at the conclusion that people are quicker to complain than they are to praise. Why is this?
Oh, I certainly do my share of bellyaching, but running my mouth about something positive sure makes me feel better than going on and on about some negative whatever. Besides, whatever its faults, some really nice things happen right here in Portales.
The most impressive (to me anyway) are those that come from the efforts of like-minded people who get together to do something worthwhile. These groups may be informal gatherings, official organizations, or anything in between.
Portales has a number of service organizations, including Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions clubs.
All these organizations do good work for our community.
Another group of friends who want to do something worthwhile as a group is a new organization called Friends for Democracy. Although committed to one candidate for president of the United States, the group includes people of any political affiliation who are interested in preserving Constitutional rights and serving as a watchdog for government excesses. The group emphasizes that it was not formed just to have a voice in the election but has the larger purpose of serving as a voice in the preservation of the democratic principles for which so many Americans have sacrificed so much in defending.
Teen Court is dedicated to preservation of legal rights. It also teaches the workings of the rule of law, provides sanctions for unacceptable behavior, and serves the teens of Portales.
This program provides an educational alternative to the regular juvenile justice system. If the student commits an offense, admits guilt, chooses this alternative and is accepted, he/she has a teen jury recommend a penalty to an adult judge (usually an attorney practicing in Roosevelt County). The offender then agrees to the penalty or chooses to return to the regular juvenile justice system. Student juries and student attorneys are trained and supervised by adult volunteers.
Teen Court is expertly managed by a dedicated educator, Barbara George. She obviously cares about these kids and works wonders with them. Not only is this a successful alternative for offenders, it is an excellent educational program for the kids as they learn about American justice and presenting cases in an organized manner.
I suspect that few communities have such a high percentage of citizens active in community service, none of them getting paid for their good work.
How about this for something positive? Nothing to complain about here. Let’s pat ourselves on the back.

Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail:
dr_james_lee@hotmail.com