A Day to Give Back: National Day of Service

“Everyone can be great because anyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t even have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 15th marked what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 84th birthday. This year, the federal holiday (MLK Day) during which we recognise his contributions to this nation will be celebrated on January 21st – and that event coincides with a day that comes around once every four years: the inauguration of an American president. To commemorate the day, President Obama has asked Americans to participate in a National Day of Service on January 19th; tomorrow is a day devoted to giving back to one’s own community and the global community at large.

“Service to others is the payment you make for your space here on earth.”  

~ Muhammad Ali 

For all of our differences in this country, Americans are very good about joining forces and coming together to generously donate time and money to worthy causes. Figures compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that in 2011, activity increased by half a percentage point to 26.8% of all Americans participated in volunteer activities. That’s not surprising given that it was in the United States that organizations such as the Peace Corps and the Red Cross were created –  and these organizations now have a global reach and positive impact. The National Day of Service furthers our legacy of commitment to causes greater than ourselves.

“The magnitude of our social problems will require that all citizens and institutions make a commitment to volunteering as a way of life and as a primary opportunity to create needed change.”

~ George Romney, former Michigan Governor

Most of us know by now that the only person we can change is ourself. If we want to see changes in our environment, the way to go about it is to pitch in and help make the changes that we would like to see. There’s strength in numbers; volunteering as a group can promote social change but all it takes is one motivated person to begin.

Do you still need a little bit of inspiration? Be selfish and do something good for yourself: helping others can bring good feelings not just to the receiver of the good deeds, but to the giver as well. Service to others is a worthwhile gift to yourself.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  

~ Margaret Mead

And in case you still need a little bit of motivation:

“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another.”    

~ Erma Bombeck

Not everyone will be able to watch the inaugural independence, and most of us will not be able to attend. But what we can do is give a little of ourselves on this day of service — and we can lay the foundation for giving all throughout the year. Maintaining the spirit of giving would do far more to improve this nation and the world than any political debate ever will.

Are you ready to give back? Find an event near you!