Let’s be honest –it is sometimes easy to feel like we don’t have a voice or we can’t impact or help fix the woes of the world. I’m a realist. I know that I am not going to single-handedly end world hunger tomorrow (even though that would be incredibly cool), but I do know that I can help hungry families in my community. Perhaps I won’t wake up and end global warming, but I could work to raise awareness about the causes and consequences of global warming. I could even contact a legislator and advocate for stronger environmental legislation or circulate a petition to support an environmental bill. We all have the ability to impact other individuals, strengthen our communities, create solutions to social problems, and shed light on social injustices. I know this and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. certainly knew this.
Monday, January 19, 2015, marks the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday (MLK Day). Dr. King spent his life serving others. He fought for the rights and justices of all people, and he inspired hundreds of thousands of people to stand with him in the Civil Rights Movement. In recognition of Dr. King’s legacy, Congress designated MLK Day as a day of service – a day for Americans to volunteer and come together to solve problems. A day to make a difference.
Many of us aren’t able to volunteer on MLK Day – and that’s okay. The spirit of MLK Day invites us to volunteer in our communities on any day. If you are wondering how you can squeeze volunteering into your schedule or why you should squeeze volunteering into your schedule, you should not feel guilty. It’s okay to ask, “What’s in it for me?” because the answer is – a lot is in it for you.
In addition to making a positive impact and helping others, volunteering brings personal, professional and social benefits. According to the United Way, volunteering can help you:
- Make important networking contacts
- Learn or develop skills
- Teach your skills to others
- Enhance your resume
- Gain work experience
- Build self-esteem and self-confidence
- Improve your health
- Meet new people
- Feel needed and valued
- Communicate to others that you are ambitious, enthusiastic and care about the community
- Express gratitude for help you may have received in the past from an organization
- Make a difference in someone’s life
To find volunteer opportunities that interest you, check out these two cool organizations:
If you have gotten some service on, please share your experience with us. Where’d you go? What’d you do? How did the experience impact you and others?