The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service provides an opportunity for each of us to get out of our comfort zones, get involved and make a difference. What a great way to honor Dr. King!
I have always found that service can be personally healing and healthy. I think we find redemption—and our own value—not by chasing the comfort and pleasure we want, but by pursuing the connection, growth, meaning, and purpose we need.
I am privileged to work with Habitat for Humanity, an organization founded on that kind of service and responsibility to our neighbor—to all neighbors, really. Through Habitat and the 550 AmeriCorps members with whom I work, I see people live this creed of service every day.
Habitat’s work recognizes how interdependent we all are. Healthy communities come together from a diversity of experience and backgrounds to take care of and work alongside those in their midst. This kind of service demands that we step out of our differences—whether they are political, religious, cultural or socioeconomic—and come together on common ground as human beings, more alike than different.
I always enjoy hearing about unique projects during this special Day of Service, an annual event that I believe gives Habitat the opportunity to sustain and expand service.
This year, as in years past, you’ll see Habitat building more than homes on this special day. What you’ll see are communities building hope and change. Here are just a few of the ways we’ll be doing so:
- Volunteers from Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity, AmeriCorps, Santa Fe Youth Works!, Santa Fe Youth Shelters and Target will spend the day repainting several teen transitional living apartments.
- Habitat New York City volunteers will honor Dr. King by rejuvenating the local Roy Wilkins Recreation Center, named after the famed civil rights leader.
- Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Harrisburg Area will work alongside several local organizations in neighborhood projects such as painting, removing litter and preparing to board-up vacant properties throughout the spring. The event also includes inspirational workshops and is expected to draw more than 120 volunteers.
In my work with Habitat AmeriCorps service members, I’ve been able to see first-hand what service does, not just for the recipients, but also for those giving their time. I think of Neal Pointer, a Vietnam veteran and AmeriCorps member, who feels that working with organizations like Habitat has given him the opportunity to serve his country again, to be a part of something bigger and to know he was making a difference.
The MLK Day of Service at Habitat is made possible by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Today, as we do every day, Habitat and CNCS are working together to invest resources in service opportunities and to strengthen that strong strand of service in our cultural DNA.
On this MLK Day, join us!
Peter Rumsey is the Director of National Service and oversees 400 AmeriCorps and VISTA members in yearlong service with Habitat for Humanity.