It just makes sense to take part in this year's census

Lift your voices and be heard."

I urged you to do this during the last presidential election. I talked about how we could no longer sit on the sidelines and steadily hope for the change that only we ourselves, individually and collectively can bring about.

I reminded you of how critical it was that you make your voices heard for those things that matter to you most. I warned you that the opportunity to do so was at that moment, and if you did not, there might be far reaching consequences for our communities, our country and our world.

Well, you did not sit idly by on the sidelines; you made a stand, lifted your voices, and history was made.

Now, it is, again, time for you to get motivated to do your part to bring about positive change for your community and-be counted.

The United States Constitution requires a census to take place every 10 years. We have reached that decennial mark and in a couple of months, census forms will be sent to your place of residence.

It may seem like nothing more than junk mail to you or, you may be thinking that it is a waste of your time. It is, however, quite the opposite. In fact, not only is the 2010 census important, but the information gathered from it will be used to make many important determinations that will affect you and your neighbors. Such determinations include how and where to distribute some of the more than $400 billion from the federal government to provide much needed resources like senior centers or job training facilities and structural improvements like bridges and new roads.

Another crucial benefit to accounting for every resident in our community and in our state is that the data gathered can help determine how well our state is represented in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It is so easy to fall into the mindset that "it won't matter," but the count does matter. Just like your vote mattered. We, as a community, have to be more aware of the way in which we allow cynicism and complacency to have an adverse affect on the quality of life that we are able to experience.

And, by quality of life, I mean the realization that because you and your family were counted, decisions were made to improve environmental and social conditions for your neighbor's elderly parents or for those children you've never met.

You may feel that you have always been overlooked or unheard in the past, but we have recent history to disprove that notion. Sometimes change is not immediate; sometimes it is the steady progression of the times and collective action. The change that we seek as citizens of our communities often requires a single step by many, rather than many steps by a single person.

The census is not just about you as an individual; it is about you helping to strengthen the voice of your community, by lending yours to it.

"Our real problem, then, is not our strength today; it is rather the vital necessity of action today to ensure our strength tomorrow." --Dwight D. Eisenhower.

When you receive your census form, resist the urge to procrastinate. Instead, go ahead and answer the 10 short questions and mail it back in the envelope that will be provided. The postage will be paid, thus requiring no use of personal resources except, however, a little of your time.

Do your part in this year's census and be counted. It just makes sense.

Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at ln_dunn@yahoo.com.