Posts Tagged ‘community service’

How Will You Spend Your MLK Day of Service?

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Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr has offered more quotable quotes to the zeitgeist than a boatload of news channel pundits, politicians, or presidents–perhaps because his public time in the spotlight was focused on realizing a greater future for all–a sentiment in shorter supply, today,than is healthy for us, I think. One of my favorites of his messages is…

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Today, many of us have a holiday from work, but it is not the Martin Luther King holiday we celebrate, rather the Martin Luther King Day of Service, a time to take a day ON instead of a day off. You should serve yourself as well–sleep in a bit, take some downtime to relax. Absolutely bask in rare extra hours with your family…won’t it be even more memorable if you, as a family, volunteer in your community? Kids are learning about MLK in their classes, but the lesson truly takes hold when they learn the spirit of the day by putting together care packages for the homeless, or cleaning up a public park, or shoveling the walk for a neighbor, or ladling stew at a soup kitchen, or, or, or…

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How can you creatively express your huge commitment to service? Without advance planning, perhaps you don’t have a volunteer project lined up for today–how about using the day to commit to action soon? Surf around to find a non-profit organization doing projects near you–there are so many resources for discovery, and SOOOO many organizations that need your assistance. When the new tax laws have most charities and non-profits quaking in their boots in anticipation of Americans donating RECORD LOW AMOUNTS to charitable causes, giving hours (in addition to) dollars becomes even more important.

There are web tools for you to use in your neighborhoods and towns, to find projects and programs that need your contribution. The MLKDay website has resources that are already serving the hundreds of thousands of people who will volunteer around the nation today, but the opportunity lasts long past midnight tonight. Use the website as a jumping off place. I promise there are other day of service events and tasks in your immediate region, school, place of worship, block, etc. What’s that? You already made plans for today you can’t break? You’ve got a little time coming up…Next weekend. On your birthday. On your anniversary. On the day a loved one passed to honor them. Or on an ongoing basis. What if today is the day you find a brand new, exciting passion project that completely fires you up? It is out there–I can promise you that, and they truly need you and what you bring. You don’t have to be a certain age, have expertise, have physical abilities, have endless free time–none of that is required for you to contribute.

Contribution can be a scary word–our brains go toward yet another request to open our wallets. What if you re-framed it and held the meaning of the word more closely to its intended use in language: the part played by a person or thing in bringing about a result or helping something to advance. What matters at the very root of it all is the contribution of your art, your passion, your enthusiasm, your voice, your ability to encourage and inspire others, your willingness to take a stand on an issue that matters to and moves you. Move things forward. Move our country forward, for you truly have the ability (without spending a cent).

“The time is always right to do what is right.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Destination Unknown, But it Will Be Good – The Do Good Bus

1329547_26453257How skilled are you at letting go? It’s a challenge for most of us in this day and age. We are, most of us, control freaks, and even if someone else holds the reins, we still want to know where we are going.

Throw all that control out the window and hop on board The Do Good Bus, a mystery mode of community volunteering in Los Angeles. A group of strangers (who will become co-workers and friends before day’s end) boards a bus and heads to an unknown volunteer program site where they will spend a day doing a community work project. The stealth and surprise elements add a new level of fun and camaraderie—we’re all in this together.

Local non-profits in the neighborhoods visited set up the work day, and the bus unloads and teams get down to work. Sometimes it is a school bus, sometimes a city-type bus, sometimes a fancy charter–again, the variables are part of the fun. Projects have included assembling sports equipment for kids, painting community and school murals, community garden work, sorting and organizing donations, projects with homeless shelters, and projects with animals and rescues. Each trip is different and each location kept under wraps.

The bus tours have three main goals: Create awareness, create a community, and inspire us to keep on finding ways to be involved long after the bus trip has finished. Public community rides typically happen once a month, on a Saturday, and last for four-ish hours. You can purchase lunch through the program or bring your own. The day costs $35, and a portion of that fee goes to the non-profit you will be serving that day. Got a group? Book a specialized group trip on the Do Good Bus (AWESOME birthday party idea!)

Volunteering Pays

-1I love this idea. Here’s a way for you to get even more benefit from volunteer work (as if all the tangible and intangible ways you get so much from doing hard work in service wasn’t enough). When you are visiting Washington DC, the Carlyle Suites Hotel and the Savoy Suites Hotel will reward you for the volunteering you do at home. For every five hours of logged service work at the charity of your choice back home, the hotels will discount your hotel room price by 50%. You’ll need to provide proof of service, so get a letter from the charity at home, but aside from that, it’s easy.

If your hectic schedule has made it tough to log five hours, the hotels have made it easy for you to still give back—they will donate 50% of your room rate (you’re paying full price in this scenario) to any volunteer organization of your choice that is registered with Volunteermatch.org (and if you don’t know that website yet, click the link…you really ought to go there).

To learn more about the “SERVE AMERICA & STAY IN DC” program, visit www.SavoySuites.com or www.CarlyleSuites.com or just click these links.-1