THE BLOG
07/01/2014 05:02 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2014

Make Today Your Day of Action

Melissa Watkins works at San Diego County Credit Union and volunteers in her free time. While conducting mock interviews with young people who want to prepare for the working world, she met a young man named Diego. Melissa was so impressed with Diego that she set him up with a real interview at the credit union. Less than a month later, the credit union had a new employee and Diego was on a new path to success.

The story of Melissa and Diego is the story of America, where we have always come together to make a difference in people's lives -- often people we don't know personally, but people whose long-term success we know is intrinsically bound to our own.

We saw that last weekend, when nearly 300 communities across the U.S. and 12 other countries mobilized tens of thousands of volunteers for projects focused on education, financial stability and health -- the cornerstones for individual and collective success. On June 21, United Way hosts Day of Action, an annual day of volunteering. This year, we captured video of volunteers restoring a town in the wake of a tornado, NFL players participating in a community softball game that raised $1 million to tackle youth homelessness and much more.

Every day can be a Day of Action. When I think about what we can accomplish together, I think about Melissa and Diego. What I left out of that story were the other 5,000 people in Melissa's community who also volunteer as tutors and mentors. How many young people like Diego can 5,000 volunteers help put on the road to long-term success? As the ranks of volunteers swell to the thousands -- to the millions -- you can imagine the lasting change we can achieve.

It's already happening. Today, the high school graduation rate in the United States is 81 percent, the highest ever recorded, and thanks in large part to people from all walks of life -- people just like you -- who are coming together to tackle the source, not just the symptoms, of core community challenges.

I believe the best is yet to come. It will take renewed commitment from volunteers, donors and partners already lending their passion, resources and expertise to the movement for long-lasting change. It will also take -- as the latest report on volunteerism concludes -- more people willing to step up and become mentors and tutors.

Everyone has a unique contribution to make. I think you might be surprised by the impact you can make as a volunteer -- in the lives of others, and in your own life.

Connect with your local United Way to find out how you can be part of the change. Or sign up to be a volunteer reader, mentor or tutor here.

What will you do to make today your Day of Action?