The month of January is not only a start of a new year but also the time of year to think about the many accomplishments Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. achieved. He challenged people to think differently, as well as the importance of giving back to the community and each other.
In 1994, Congress recognized the significance of Dr. King's work and designated his birthday as a National Day of Service. The third Monday in January is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service. The late Dr. King's work was dedicated to engaging communities around a greater cause and what it means to give back. "Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service," stated Dr. King.
How do you define service? Is it giving a monetary donation to your favorite charity? How about collecting food to give to the local food pantry?
I have been asking others this question, "Why do you volunteer or give service?" It is amazing the similarities of the answers given. The majority of responses revolve around the fact that it provides an inward sense of making a difference. Being able to help out because you are an able-bodied person with a passion or interest in the given activity you have volunteered for.
The other statement which resonated with me was the fact that as a volunteer you do not necessarily need to give money. Dr. King stated, "If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way."
Time, talent, and treasures is a statement used to describe one's interest in giving back. Do you have the time to donate to help out at an animal shelter by walking their dogs? Do you have a talent of teaching a youth how to read? Do you have a treasure to share with an organization?
My family volunteers to help with community events which normally end with us doing the clean-up activities. We have found our niche within our service interests where many folks like the planning and implementation process but very few like the clean-up process. Our family has found our service fulfillment in helping with the clean-up process of events.
One of the H's within 4-H stands for Hands. The hands represent a youth's ability for larger service while working through their 4-H activities. As a core element to our programs the concept of giving service is a constant. Community service is built into all of our program areas. 4-H is made up of a strong volunteer network. Not only do we have adults leading and mentoring youth but we have older youth taking active roles in teaching and coaching others in the program. When I asked one of our fourteen year old participants what she gains from giving service to the community she stated, "It is a win-win for everyone. I like the warm fuzzy feeling it provides me in doing something needed for the community and also gives back to the place I am volunteering at."
The greatness Dr. King expressed through service is alive and well in the warm fuzzies our youth and families are providing in the Johnson County community. How will you and your family be active this MLK Day of Service?