Monday January 21, is important day for many Americans. It’s the day that we celebrate one of the greatest American equality advocates in history, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. To honor Dr. King’s memory many organizations and companies have started what is officially known as “The MLK Day of Service”. This service day is done in partnership with the President’s ‘United We Serve’ initiative. This initiative was to promote the importance of working together, to create better and more sustainable communities throughout our Country.
The main focus of The MLK Day of Service is to give back to those around you and to make a difference in your neighborhood or community. One of Dr. King’s most famous quotes is as follows, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others” That quote is thought-provoking, especially when you sit back and think, really, what am I doing for others?
Too many times we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our own lives. I mean we have a spouse, kids, work and extra-curricular activities that we have to worry about. How often do we honestly look within ourselves to ask is there is anything else that I can do for those around me, whether it’s in your community or not. In short, the answer is YES! There are so many ways for not only you to give back, but your children can also volunteer as well. Servitude can serve as an important life lesson for many youngsters growing up. I personally remember many times when my father would take me and my younger brother to an area where he grew up, and we would help beautify the community, spend time at a retirement home, and generally get first hand exposure to show us that not everything is handed to you in life. Growing up, my brother and I honestly had everything a child needed, and mostly wanted. We thought that that’s how life was for everyone. The reality of the community service that my father made us do at an early age was to show us that there are real struggles in this world, and we can do a small part in helping out, even if it’s just in a neighborhood. I look back on those days with fond memories and I plan on instilling that mindset to my children one day.
If you are not exactly sure of where to begin to look for service opportunities, there are plenty of places and organizations that are actively looking for volunteers, including right here at the Community Center. There are various opportunities to help in the Community Center, such as helping with our youth basketball program, Biddy Ball, working with our senior citizen population that uses the facility, or helping citizens in the computer lab or the reading lounge. The possibilities of serving and giving back are numerous. You can also visit websites such as www.volunteermatch.org and www.serve.gov There you can enter your zip code and the websites will list volunteer opportunities in your neighborhoods and communities. Volunteer opportunities can include such things as putting together care packages for troops, organizing a neighborhood clean-up, tutoring or donating time to a local shelter.
Volunteering doesn’t only benefit the organization that you are working with, it also benefits you personally. By volunteering your time, you may have the chance to learn or develop a new skill, achieve a greater sense of self-worth by helping others around you, and it will also give you new life experiences that will bring you in the presence of a wide-range of diverse people. These are just some of the positive impacts that volunteering can do to enhance your life.
Volunteering can also have rewards and perks, especially at the Community Center for teenagers. All teens between the ages of 12-17 that have a teen passport to the Community Center have the opportunity to have the next month’s dues reduced based among the number of volunteer hours and community service hours they have completed during the previous month. Essentially a teen could have their entire membership paid off free of charge just by working to help others in the community.
By volunteering everyone wins, your community, your neighbors and yourself! So during this time of the month as we reflect on the amazing things that Dr. King did, we can take heed in his words ‘What are you doing for others’.
If interested in volunteering at the Community Center please contact Tony Thomas at email@example.com
Thanks for reading…and best of luck in your volunteer efforts!
Tony Thomas is the Recreation Services Supervisor of the Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703.335.8872 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Matters is a blog created by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation. The blog features program updates, announcements of new services, special event notices, or information of general interest.
Parts of this article contain information from www.worldvolunteerweb.org