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Our View: Take a bow, volunteers

This past week brought events that won't soon be forgotten.

Unprecedented horror in the streets of Boston was followed by a seismic explosion in West, Texas. But before the smoke even cleared, we also saw the emergence of people charging in to help: volunteers. They were people who acted under no obligation other than what was in their hearts to help.

It's worth noting these valiant, selfless acts of aid fell during the month of April, which is National Volunteer Month.

Locally, we witnessed the recognition of others who give of their time without pay during a ceremony in Lake Elmo. Those volunteers work with the Washington County Community Circles program, which aims to resolve criminal conviction cases through an alternative to the traditional sentencing process.

Clients of the program are placed in "circles" within their community, where face-to-face discussions with others - sometimes including their victims - help rehabilitate them. The process has proven to be effective.

But the offenders don't get through the process on their own. Community members in Woodbury, Cottage Grove and Stillwater donate hundreds of hours of their time each year, giving of themselves in the hopes that they can restore peace, stability and productivity to others' lives without passing judgment on their situations.

While the spotlight shined on the Community Circles volunteers, they're far from the only ones in Woodbury - and beyond - making a difference. Every day, community members volunteer in schools, in faith-based groups, at homeless shelters and food shelves, to name just a few.

These people give freely and openly of their time with no expectation of reward or recognition. That's great, but these people do deserve our thanks.

We salute our local volunteer community. We can't begin to know where we'd be without you.

Thank you.