Six degrees of separation — a notion that essentially says any one person is just six steps or acquaintances away from another person anywhere else in the world because of large social networks — was popularized by examining the career of actor Kevin Bacon. The idea was that any celebrity could be connected to Bacon through six or fewer steps. Co-stars, directors and others who had worked with the celebrated actor were fair game.

Bacon talks about the six degrees of connectivity as it relates to helping others in the cover story of Friday’s USA Weekend supplement in The Ottawa Herald. A website — — hopes to bring together philanthropy and social networking to help others nationally and internationally.

The edition spotlights Make A Difference Day award winners for their volunteer efforts. Of course, lots of other people volunteer with nothing but the desire to help others as their motive.

At the local level, volunteers are giving back too. Beginning Tuesday, five local volunteers will be profiled for the generous volunteer efforts they have provided to others. Whether their efforts benefit kids, animals or the community as a whole, their efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed. They each are making an important difference in the lives of others. They inspire others to pay it forward as well.

More than 4,800 volunteers made contributions in the past year to local nonprofits for a combined total of 147,168 hours of volunteer service, Lisa Rivers, Ottawa Volunteer Center director, said. At an hourly wage of $21.79 — the amount designated as appropriate by the Independent Sector — to each volunteer, those hours add up to $3,206,790 in volunteer contributions in Franklin County. The figures were submitted to the Ottawa Volunteer Center by 40 nonprofit organizations, but did not include local churches and independent neighboring initiatives that do not track their volunteer time. Just imagine the hours and financial impact if those volunteers were included too.

Even though most humble volunteers believe they receive thanks enough from the service they provide, the Ottawa Volunteer Center will provide a free “Celebrate Volunteers” luncheon 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 20 at Washburn Towers, 526 S. Main St., Ottawa, for Franklin County volunteers and volunteer managers.

What one person does affects others, whether they live across town or around the world. We are thankful for volunteer efforts and know the recipients of their generosity are grateful too.


— Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher