Monday, January 19, 2009

Volunteering on Martin Luther King Jr. Day


Do you volunteer for your community on a regular basis?

I think volunteering is a great thing, but I sure do not, not measurably anyway.

Yet over the past several weeks, with Obama's frequent appeal to us to get involved with public service in order to help bring our country together and improve our communities, I am feeling more and more compelled to change this.

Today of course is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and while reading through some of his writings, I noticed this quote: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

What indeed?

Despite the fact that tomorrow is the Inauguration and kinda a big deal, the Obama's have evidently taken up today for public service.

I know soup kitchens and food pantries are understocked and in need of hands to keep things going. I know there are plenty of places to find listings for volunteer opportunities. And yet I don't pitch in.

It's not for lack of positive role models. My Mom had a very well-developed sense of public service, and was always engaged in something charitable on top of her full-time job and being a Mom. From answering phones during the local public television station's pledge drive and canvassing for the politicians she supported, to organizing community crafts fairs and heading up my Girl Scout troop, public service was just part of my Mom's life.

I just don't feel like giving bags of unwanted clothes to the Salvation Army once a year compares.

(And I don't mean talking for free at events about my work -- that doesn't count. I mean, it's volunteering, but it's not really helping the less fortunate or cleaning up streets or anything).

So I am deciding today, in honor of Martin Luther King and President-elect Obama, to make a change. I am deciding to spend a few hours each month going outside of my comfort zone and pitching in for the greater good.

If you, like me, are not an avid volunteer already, I invite you to join me. Let's make a change and start pitching in, because it's all about being the change you want to see in the world.

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.
Image by Doug Mills for the New York Times.

4 comments:

The Accessory Lady said...

This is just great and I hope that everyone makes a conscious effort to volunteer more consistently throughout the year and not just today. We just have to make it part of our routine and not something out of the ordinary. :-) Great blog!

Brian D said...

Amy - I like your spirit! Since my job deals with volunteering I've organized a couple of days with the city's park system and itsmypark.org. Two organizations that I also think do great things (and work with) are Minds Matter and Summer Search, which both have volunteer mentoring and tutoring programs for high school kids in NYC... go for it!

Greenjeans said...

Thank you for the encouragement, Brian D and Accessory Lady!

- Amy

melania said...

http://nycares.org/ is a great resource for volunteering.