Far too often the American people are driven to corruption by the need to succeed, to win the prize, to accumulate wealth and material possessions, and they will go to any length to accomplish this with no regard for others. Scarcely a week goes by that we do not hear of political corruption at some level in government. We see it in the salesman who cheats on his expense account, the motorist who drives ten miles over the speed limit, the person who throws a pop can out the window of the car and into someone’s yard. We have the business person who charges personal items to the company, the student who cheats on a test. Insurance fraud and tax evasion are some of the more acceptable kinds of dishonesty practiced on a regular basis.
This is what was troubling a small group of people back in 1992, so they decided to see if they could try to do something to change the tide. Area residents from business, education, politics and industry came together and formed the Committee for Integrity Enhancement. The Committee was founded for the purpose of raising the level of integrity consciousness in our community. It is their aim to promote and recognize integrity in the business community, as well as in the personal lives of area residents. It is their belief that values must not only be taught to our children, but integrity must be demonstrated by those people with whom they have contact every day.
The Committee agrees with what Tony Dungy wrote in his recent book entitled Uncommon. “Integrity is what you do when no one is watching; it’s doing the right thing all the time, even when it may work to your disadvantage. Integrity is that internal compass and rudder that directs you to where you know you should go when everything around you is pulling you in a different direction.”
At present the Committee has two programs to accomplish their purpose. The first is an annual essay contest established in the city and county schools where students write about some aspect of integrity. The goal in this contest is to encourage young people to gain an understanding of what integrity means and how it should be applied in their lives now and when they become adults.
The topic of this year’s 19th annual essay is “How can I demonstrate integrity through my service to others?” Students in grades 4-12 are presently writing and the essays will be submitted to the Committee. Winners will be announced and recognized at a presentation on April 23.
Thousands of students over the last 18 years have written essays and the Committee hopes their lives have been touched. Several teachers have noted that the Integrity Essay has given them a vehicle to communicate values and character lessons to their students.
The second activity of the Committee is the awarding of the Delaware County Personal Integrity Award. This is a program whereby residents of Delaware County may nominate an individual whose life continuously shows strong evidence of integrity. Based on these nominations, several citizens will be awarded plaques at the same reception in April. If you wish to nominate someone, call 289-8645 for details. Nominations must be post marked no later than February 28.
The Committee for Integrity Enhancement is a not-for-profit organization and is financed through donations f businesses and individuals.