New Antioch Volunteer Website Announced

By Walter Ruehlig

What’s it all about, Alfie?” was the 1966 Michael Caine movie and Dionne Warwick soundtrack reiteration of man’s perennial question; what is the meaning of life?

In charting the pursuit of the holy grail of happiness I, for one, throw my lot in with the philosophers who say that the irony of life is that seeking happiness is a bit like chasing butterflies. The more excitedly you run after the prize, the less likely you’ll catch it. Be still, though and, presto, a butterfly may settle on your shoulder.

Interestingly, when we’re feverishly intent on trying to satisfy our own ego and myopic desires, we run around in circles forever chasing our own tails.

Am I advocating self-annihilation and shunning personal happiness? Contrary, it’s merely a call to a Higher Self where happiness is the by-product of a purpose-driven life.

Being productive, making some difference that you lived, should be the compass if we are not to be lost souls chasing a mirage of fool’s gold. Sensory pleasures, fame and fortune, are fleeting. They never light the enduring inner world of self-worth.

William James, the celebrated 19th century philosopher, pierced the heart of life’s irony when in his essay, “Enlightened Self Interest” he advocated that true selflessness is actually selfishness. He asserted that selfless people are actually doing themselves their best favor. They understand the dynamics of true satisfaction, that kindness is a boomerang and that loving others is loving ones’ deepest Self.

We are all interconnected and our actions ripple on the shores of eternity. Call it, if you will, the law of physical cause and effect, equal and opposite reaction; call it the Biblical “as you sow, so shall you reap”; call it karma.

Given the strain on government services, public giving is needed more than ever. Here in Antioch our city payroll is that of Brentwood, which is half our size in population. Police, code enforcement, graffiti removers, recreation and over-the counter staff are scarce. Things, then, simply won’t all get done without community volunteering.

In this spirit, I put together a web site, with some fifty local organizations to connect to right in our own backyard. As examples, one can give loving, tender care to stray animals; provide companionship to home shut-ins and those convalescing in hospitals; fulfill the last wishes of the elderly; be a docent at the Historical Society; tutor at the library, our schools or Opportunity Junction; pick up litter from city streets; coach sports; be a male role model for the Watchdogs organization in our schools.

I am particularly hopeful for youth mentoring. We live in a city with 38% of our population under eighteen; the highest percentage in the county. Many of these youth suffer absentee parenting. Organizations like YIN, Community Resources 4 Youth, PAL and Parents Connected do fabulous work but need volunteers.

My hope and prayer for us all, then, is that Mother Teresa’s affirmation resonates in our hearts. “I am a living pencil in the hand of a living God who is sending a love letter to the world.” That’s a prescription for a life worth living and maybe an irresistible invitation for that butterfly of happiness to alight on our shoulders.

To have your organization be part of, visit our website or email me at

2 Comments to “New Antioch Volunteer Website Announced”

  1. Ralph Garrow says:

    Good job by Walter, just chosen Antioch Citizen of the Year for Lifetime Achievement in volunteering for the community by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce. What about Service Clubs? Rotary Club of the Delta, Antioch Rotary Club, Delta Kiwanis, Lions, etc. Hapgood Theatre is now defunct.

  2. Vonita Brown says:

    Walter, what a great post! I’m sure this is just the beginning of many.
    I really like the part about happiness being a by-product of a purpose driven life. Well said, thought provoking and true. If we would find out and pursue our purpose, true happiness will follow. Reminds me of the movie “Simon Birch”, about a little boy with a big purpose.

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