“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’” Martin Luther King, Jr.
This third Monday of January, we recognize the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Over the years, it has also become a day to honor his legacy by encouraging a day of community service, “a day on, not a day off.”
A common theme expressed throughout his speeches is simply recognizing the value of each other. That we all have worth, that we all can be a driving force for change, and that together, we can overcome the seemingly impossible. One way to do that is through service and giving back.
Making a difference is not just about money, or time, or goods supplied, although all of those certainly have the most immediate impact. The support that helps us fix a family’s only car while dad is deployed, or helps an injured soldier keep the roof over his family’s head while he recovers and navigates the VA leviathan is critical. But what is often overlooked is the enduring impact that the support of our community has: the connection we make with another human being at a time when they are most vulnerable and even hopeless.
Dr. King’s words often expressed the feeling one has when they don’t feel they have options, or value. When they feel overlooked or abandoned. Our families are always relieved and grateful for the financial assistance they receive, but what they often remark upon, at times, quite emotionally, is how much it matters that someone cared. That they are not alone, and how, when ready, they intend to pay it forward.
This is how we begin to change the world. One family, one hand lifting up another, one message of hope that can be passed on.
Through service and giving back, we see each other more clearly, and achieve deeper understanding of our individual journeys. Volunteering brings together people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to meet. It is in these encounters that we weave the connections that strengthen our communities and help begin solving what can seem overwhelming.
It will take more than one day, once a year, but today can be a start.
Here are some links to help you find opportunities near you:
For information on getting involved with Operation Homefront’s mission, click here http://www.operationhomefront.net/getinvolved
Points of Light has helped millions of volunteers change the world. They mobilize people to take action on the causes they care about through innovative programs, events and campaigns. Points of Light is creating a culture of volunteerism, one that celebrates the power of service. http://www.pointsoflight.org/
VolunteerMatch strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement http://www.volunteermatch.org/
Serve.gov, the online home of United We Serve, is managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency charged with promoting and fostering volunteering and national service in America http://www.serve.gov/