“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”- Martin Luther King Jr.
January 16 marked the national celebration of Martin Luther King Day of Service. As a passionate proponent of social justice Dr. King has always been an important public figure to me. I have always admired his amazing public speaking skills, love for all of humanity, and emphasis on nonviolent social change.
Although, I am a big Martin Luther King fan, I never truly understood the importance of the national day of service aspect, until recently. Due to the fact that I am a recent college graduate, this day just meant a day out of school for me. Since becoming an AmeriCorps member for Points of Light, this day became so much more to me.
As an AmeriCorps member, I was asked to host a Sunday Supper as part of my commitment to service. A Sunday Supper is a means of sparking conversation between neighbors about important issues that may affect the community on a day-to-day basis. I decided to host my Sunday Supper with my family members so that we could move away from eating dinner in front of the television and actually speak to each other. This dinner became so much more than that. I wanted to understand their viewpoints on certain issues that I see in our community on a daily basis, so we discussed the issue of poverty.
My parents brought up excellent points about how the issue of poverty should not be an issue that we just become immune to, but rather a very visible issue.
The discussion actually bonded my family and we even discussed the idea of trying to do something about our community’s poverty rate by volunteering as a family at a local shelter.
We would have never had this discussion without the Sunday Supper. The issue of poverty and homelessness has become a very present topic of discussion in my household. It is great to see how one discussion can spark action, making Dr. King’s idea of nonviolent social change even more of a reality.
In honor of Dr. King I also decided to serve at a local elementary school with other AmeriCorps members. We were assigned the task of painting certain rooms in the school building.
I was a bit apprehensive about the service because it required me to use artistic skills that I unfortunately do not possess and it started early in the morning (I am not a fan of waking up early). My feelings immediately changed when I saw the turn out at the project. Over 90 volunteers showed up to serve at the school on Martin Luther King Day. Every volunteer was eager to help out his or her local school. The thing that touched me the most during this experience was the enthusiasm for volunteering that the children had. Children who were much younger than me could not wait to get inside and begin painting. They kept talking about how excited they were and how much volunteering meant to them.
It was so amazing to see the impact that a child can make on his or her community. It truly made me understand that Dr. King was correct when he said, “Anybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”
I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to fully understand Dr. King’s day of service. He was correct in his idea of the beloved community and the idea of nonviolent social change. One small act of kindness can really make a huge difference in your
neighbor’s daily life.
Live out Dr. King’s belief in the beloved community and make a habit of serving your fellow neighbors on daily basis. Who knows what your community will look like with a touch of your goodwill?
Did you serve your community on Martin Luther King Day? We would love to hear about it in the comment section!