August is winding down. It has been a strange month for weather. No one would have believed you if you had predicted much rain and temperatures in the 50s a night or two. It is has been a pleasant change. I'll take it.
Recently, someone asked about the series I am doing for the Daily News. "Neighbors" has been an interesting project for me. First, I try very hard not to include people I know. Once in a while I am running late or someone I know has done something interesting, so I go that route. But I would guess that 80 percent of my neighbors are complete strangers when I interview them. Some I may have heard of but do not officially know.
I have a belief that it's poor journalism if you write about your family or friends or yourself too much. It's more interesting to find something new in the first place.
Working in the bookstore at the hatchery has been a prime picking ground for neighbors. I only work one morning a week (about three hours) and there is hardly a time when someone interesting comes in.
As part of my greeting, I always ask people where they are from if I don't know them. Most are happy to talk and tell where they are from and what they are doing in Neosho. Many come from area towns such as Joplin, Pineville, Granby, Diamond or Seneca. These people usually say they had heard about the hatchery but never took time to visit. Most have kids or grandkids in tow.
People of all kinds, professions, hobbies and interest show up. I have had a man who raised rabbits in Arkansas, a military musician, a young volunteer from Joplin, an 8-year old fiddler, a university professor from Springfield, a group of people from Boeing Aircraft, a Joplin photographer, a Carthage couple celebrating the woman's birthday and a railroad enthusiast from Chicago.
If you can imagine that many people showing up within a three-hour stand weekly, imagine how many show up the rest of the week that I never get to meet.
Working the bookstore not only helps the Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery, it does wonders and provides a real satisfaction for the volunteer clerks. If you want some volunteer hours or just want something to do, I recommend the bookstore.
In fact, I recommend volunteering any place. The world would be much less of a place if we had no volunteers. Many places from hospitals, national parks, schools, libraries and churches depend on volunteers. So why not make yourself useful and add something new to your life. You'll probably be happier, healthier, and maybe even a little wiser for doing so.
Kay Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.