Reading through national headlines from these past few months it is clear that there are many challenges that await us in the new year. This is not the first time in our nation’s history that social divides, cultural divisions and challenges have seemed to be insurmountable. So it is not surprising to me that many individuals find themselves looking out at the current landscape and wondering how we can find the solutions needed to address the most pressing problems in our communities here in the United States and around the world. The question many of us find ourselves asking is “what is my role in this dialogue?”
Yet I have hope for our nation and find inspiration on the eve of the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) MLK Day of Service. This annual celebration of the man Dr. King, and his legacy of peaceful gatherings and service to our communities offers a time for reflection and for action. I, just as Dr. King, desire to use philanthropy and service as a method to bridge perceived divisions and unite individuals of all backgrounds.
Since 1994, MLK Day has been recognized as a national day of service, a “day on, not a day off.” Each year, thousands of Americans across the country come together to take part in service projects, large and small, to make their communities more beautiful and more unified. Dr. King’s devotion to service is now a national tradition. No matter your age, gender, education or socioeconomic standing, as King believed, “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve.”
There are numerous opportunities to come together and serve across the U.S. This year the Case Foundation team will be joining forces with City Year Washington D.C. and other D.C. community members at Eastern Senior High School to help turn the school, “into a more engaging, educational and vibrant place for students to learn and play.” Click here to register and join us!
If you are interested in being a part of the tradition to honor Dr. King’s work, you don’t have to stop at one day a year. Take the MLK Day Challenge and pledge to “commit to service to make your community – and your country – a better place.” Whether you can commit the entire day or only part of it, there are plenty of options to serve this year. You can even take time out of your evening to start a dialogue– over Sunday dinner – how your community is engaging and what roles we can all play.
Here are some of the many resources to help you take part in a service project:
- Find an event that interests you in your community by visiting the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service website.
- Find a local opportunity with the right fit at VolunteerMatch.org.
- Get inspired by these stories of previous “MLK Days On” and find the perfect volunteer opportunity at Points of Light.
- Search for an event to participate in via Idealist.org.
- See how nation’s leaders have served in the past with the Corporation for National and Community Service and United We Serve.
- Join Meridian International Center and local partners in D.C. for a day of bringing together skilled volunteers, community members and local organizations for the MLK Pro Bono Dream Lab. Here you can also find a host of other donation and service opportunities.
- Commit to host a Sunday Supper. These events were inspired by MLK’s vision of people of diverse backgrounds interacting over a meal and discussing issues that affect their communities.