How a Day of Service Puts Things in Perspective
Yesterday we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day when we’re encouraged to participate in acts of service in our community. “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve,” Dr. King said in 1968.
I started working for UPS in 2011 and one of the first things that caught my eye was the emphasis placed on volunteering and giving back to the community. It’s not something that is just talked about around holidays like Martin Luther King Jr. Day or Thanksgiving – it’s something that’s encouraged throughout the year.
I started volunteering at St. Francis’ Table, a soup kitchen in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, as a sophomore at Morehouse College. That fall, my English professor was offering extra credit for volunteering and had been giving us an opportunity to do so the whole semester. Juggling the rigors of academic life and spending time with my family and friends, I had no real interest in going other than maximizing extra points for the course.
After attending three of four Saturday volunteer sessions allowed for extra credit, I decided to go back before going home for Christmas break. When my professor saw me, he asked why I came back. I told him that I just wanted to help. Since that day, I have been back every Saturday that I’m in town.
The experience has really been life changing for me and has helped to put a lot of things in perspective. It’s hard to complain about anything going on in my own life after spending a Saturday serving those in need. The soup kitchen helps me to understand that nothing should be taken for granted and that no matter how bad I may think something is in life at the moment, there are people out there who would love to be in my shoes.
The look on the faces of the people we’re helping when they see us time and time again, being able to have conversations with them as they become familiar with us – it’s all priceless. The people I have helped to serve have helped me just as much as I have helped them, if not more.
Did you volunteer in your community? Planning to serve this month? Let us know by leaving a comment.
Filed under: Caring for Communities