One recent Saturday I visited several of the South-Western City School District's gymnasiums to take in some of our Parks and Recreation youth basketball games.

I enjoy watching the kids get together in a fun, competitive environment. There was a contagious, positive energy created by the encouraging cheers from parents, animated instructions from coaches, whistles of warning from referees and children of all ages celebrating victories or taking in a loss.

It struck me that the gymnasiums were filled with volunteers, all there for the sole purpose of bringing joy to the youth in our community. Within all of the youth sports programs in Grove City, these folks take on time-consuming tasks and responsibilities on their own, with the simple compensation of witnessing the happiness of participating youth.

In April, Grove City will join the rest of the country, recognizing community volunteers as we celebrate National Volunteer Month.

Hundreds of volunteers in our area choose to make a difference in the lives of others -- sometimes that difference is a drop in the bucket that causes a tidal wave of change.

For example every spring, hundreds of individuals come together during the ACTS of Grove City annual volunteer event, where tasks such as lawn work, painting and small home-upkeep projects are completed for residents who simply need a little assistance in an overwhelming situation.

The good that is accomplished during this event often drives participants to explore other opportunities to help their neighbors.

There are many organizations in Grove City that extend this type of compassion, building on the pride in our community to keep our "Best Hometown" one of the most environmentally conscious communities in central Ohio. Keep Grove City Beautiful combines a variety of efforts to improve our environment; the Grove City Tree Commission assists the operation of our comprehensive municipal urban-forestry program; and volunteers at the Gardens at Gantz Farm maintain a display of horticulture through the years.

Relying predominantly on volunteers to achieve its mission of preserving Grove City's history, the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society coordinates exhibits and events in the Grove City Museum and Welcome Center, Century Village at Fryer Park and the Grant-Sawyer Home. These wonderful examples of our city's history would not be available without the society's commitment to local preservation and education.

We are quite fortunate to have many needs in our community met through the kindness of a large number of civic, charitable and service organizations.

A significant number of volunteers from these organizations and many other dedicated individuals support our youth sports, including our Little League and Buddy Ball baseball programs.

Multiple Boy Scout, Girl Scout and 4-H Clubs have formed in Grove City, where youth are mentored by adult volunteers who educate and instill a good work ethic, trustworthiness, loyalty and a helpful heart. These groups regularly assist with needs in our community.

Volunteering extends to community safety through programs provided by the Grove City Division of Police. Members of the Community Watch Volunteer Program, who are alumni of the Citizens Police Academy, often dedicate personal time to community events while reaching out to residents on a regular basis.

As I look around, I am constantly reminded how blessed we are to be a community that lives as a neighborhood -- a neighborhood with pride in history, love of surroundings, committed to youth and unwavering in its desire to help one another. We're a community working together.

Mayor Richard L. "Ike" Stage is serving his fifth term as mayor.