It's been 25 years since Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday was signed into law as a national holiday. A decade later, the holiday was transformed by Congress into "a national day of community service." This month the Presidential Inaugural committee "launched a national organizing effort on the eve of the Inauguration to engage Americans in service." Their website (USAservice.org) gives users an opportunity to host or signup to do good works by zip code. One stop shopping to serve others.
Last week, a cursory glance for service activities in my New York City 10021 zip code includes more than 75 events. Today, there are more than 105 scheduled service projects. Some endeavors take just a few minutes (like dropping off clothes at Housing Works) while others run all day (like working at a food bank).
The family took a look at the options and decided what we wanted to do. My daughter plans to volunteer for City Arts Pieces for Peace creating public art and her younger brother will join his friends at the JCC and bake treats for a sale to benefit Kids v Cancer, a pediatric cancer research foundation. We'll embrace the power of doing good because "we can."
But here's the thing, some people may not be able to respond to the call to service for work or other reasons. No matter where you are, no matter what day it is, begin with a friendly "hello" or smile. It doesn't take much and it might just make someone's day better.
Because "we can," the children and I will continue to find ways to give back beyond tomorrow. The world in which they are growing up in is saddled with challenges but it is encouraging to see their enthusiasm and commitment to making it better. Please, join us if you can.