By: Peter Bennett

I was recruited to work in Longview, Washington about five years ago. At the time, I didn’t know much about the community, let alone the city. My solution: get out, meet people and see what defined the place that I had come to call home. Curiosity led me to my first service club meeting—at the Longview Early Edition Rotary Club—where I met many friends and was introduced to dozens of local nonprofits.

More importantly, I got to witness the concept of “Service above self” in action.

Like me, you’ve probably heard this phrase before, but I had never lived in a community where it was practiced so widely and earnestly. Every organization and person I’ve met is helping to address a multitude of issues and concerns that challenge our city and county. And, even though each nonprofit has a specific focus, there is a high degree of mutual support.

For me, this cooperative approach is best displayed every year during the annual “Walk and Knock” collection that supports our local food banks. Organizations and volunteers from across the city join forces to ensure that every door in Longview receives a knock. Each year I see new people and familiar faces working to better our community, and I continue to be astounded by the goodwill and generosity it creates in every neighborhood.

It is rare to find a volunteer in one activity or organization who is not similarly involved somewhere else, and many of those individuals also bring the support of their co-workers and employers. This commitment to collaboration and mutual support has encouraged me to take on a larger role and changed my concept of community. As for my search for what defines Longview, I think it’s the volunteerism that our local organizations rely on. And it’s what makes me proud to be part of this community.

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