Many of us begin the new year with resolutions. Exercise more. Eat less. Unplug. Get involved. Everyone’s list is different, but most focus on changing something in a way that gives our lives more meaning.
Twenty-five years ago, Points of Light founder President George H. W. Bush asked nearly 3,000 young people gathered on the South Lawn of the White House a question that gets to the heart of the matter: “What is it that you want from life?” I love the answer he offered. “When it comes right down to it,” he said, “what you want – what all of us want – are two things: meaning and adventure. And I’m telling you today, you can find what you’re looking for in helping others."
As I’ve considered my own resolutions for 2014, I’ve thought about his words. I’ve thought about people I admire who have found meaning – and adventure – in service to others. People like Daily Point of Light honoree Chad Pregracke, who started by pulling trash out of the Mississippi River near his home, but who has since engaged 70,000 people to help remove 7 million pounds of garbage from our nation’s waterways. Or Estella Pyfrom, who is using her retirement to help kids learn vital computer skills in a mobile technology center called “Estella’s Brilliant Bus.” People who saw a problem and set out to do something about it. People who brought their unique talents and gifts to bear on an issue that mattered to them and ultimately created powerful change in their communities – and in their own lives.
On Monday, our nation will celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and Remembrance. As we reflect on Dr. King’s life, his enduring messages and his transformational impact on our world, his prophetic call to action seems as timely and powerful as ever: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question,” he said, “is what are you doing for others?”
We live at such an extraordinary moment, a time when individuals have more power than ever before. More knowledge and access to information about issues. More connectivity and influence through social networks. More examples of smart, citizen-driven solutions that work. Opportunities to use our time, talent, influence and our money and purchasing power to make a difference are as close as our desktop or smartphone. And in every community in the country, volunteer centers and community organizations are mobilizing volunteers to help solve tough community problems.
MLK Day is a great moment to begin a year of meaning, service – and adventure. Join a volunteer project on MLK Day, participate in one of the hundreds of America’s Sunday Suppers happening around the country – or sign up on Facebook to host your own.
Why? Because community needs are great, opportunities to make a difference are abundant and change is yours for the making.