What Volunteering Means: MLK Day Reflections

The following is cross-posted from Compassion Takes Action, the blog at The Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago, where I currently work as an Americorps VISTA

As a part of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, volunteers turned out all over the country to “Make it a day on, not a day off,” working to bring the philosophy of MLK to life through their service. There was many volunteer projects going on throughout our community and thousands happening around the country. It’s always refreshing to see the spirit of service move so many people. Even President Obama got involved, serving food to the homeless in Washington, D.C.

I joined the other VISTAs from here at TVC in volunteering at Little City, an organization that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Some of us worked in the Encore retail shop, helping to hang, sort and price everything from 1980′s-era clothing to heavy crystal ash trays. Others worked in Little City’s book warehouse, helping to sort the piles of donated literature. And while it was difficult for the bibliophiles among us to part with some of the books (like VISTA Olesya in the video), we all understood that our work was contributing to a great organization and a great cause.

Working for a non-profit that promotes volunteering in the community, I’ve definitely come to appreciate the huge impact that volunteers have on the community. To think of how much it would cost organizations to pay people to do the work that volunteers happily do for free makes it clear that so many organizations wouldn’t be able to do so much good in our community if it weren’t for volunteers. So thank you to everyone who turned out.

The quote of the day definitely goes to Nancy Levi, a former schoolteacher and the volunteer helping to lead Little City’s book sorting operation. As she put it, “Volunteering is the rent you pay for your space on Earth.” I couldn’t agree more.
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Filed under Non-Profit, Reflections

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