I learned about National Day of Service three years ago when I was serving as an Americorps VISTA member. The office where I worked was not on holiday, but as Americorps members, we were not to come in to work that day. Instead of using the holiday as a day to lay on the couch, however, we were challenged to make MLK day "a day on, not a day off". We were challenged to find volunteer projects and serve our community as a way to honor Martin Luther King Jr. As a VISTA, you are essentially a full-time volunteer...so I have to admit that I wasn't all that into it. Another VISTA volunteer and I got up early that morning to help out at an MLK day breakfast and speaking event. We helped set tables and arrange food, but for most of our time there we were able to sit back and listen as community members were honored and Dr. King's message was echoed. It was a beautiful event, and by the end I was so glad that I had been able to take time off from my regular work to be present in this celebration. I probably didn't make much of a contribution to the event that day, but the event had a big impact on me as a volunteer.
I have to admit that since that year, I haven't given much thought to the National Day of Service. I guess for the last two years it hasn't really been on my radar. I imagine that part of the reason for this is that my office isn't off for MLK day. Usually, the Day of Service is on a Monday, "a day on, not a day off" for those who do get that day off from work. This year, the official day is Saturday the 19th, and for some reason, I have been getting a lot of reminders. I have been getting Americorps alumni emails about the day and have felt the push to see what's going on in my area.
I love the idea of a day of community service as a memorial to Dr. King. What better way to honor his memory and move closer to his vision of community? Go here to listen to or read some of Dr. King's words. Get inspired.
So I've decided to get involved. I don't have a whole day to dedicate, in fact I don't have much time at all this Saturday. But I know that I (and you!) can do something! So this Saturday, I'll be headed to the Red Cross to donate blood.
Do you want to find a way to serve this weekend? Click here for more information about the National Day of Service. The search function on that web page didn't work for me...so in case it doesn't work for you either, try here to find out what is happening in your community. Serve.gov is a great resource any time of the year to find ways to volunteer in your community! Get out. Do good. Feel good.