“We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service relationship to humanity.” – Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr.
Seven years ago, before I became a member of a number of local and International civic organizations, I was dedicated exclusively to my career, my husband and starting a family. I had heard about volunteering and civil service in college and I had participated in a few events that raised money for different causes. But, I never realized how or why community service and leadership development could become so important for our society and touch local communities so much until I moved to Michigan.
I was looking to network with members of our community of Wyandotte, since my husband and I had just moved here from Washington, DC. After some searching online, I found the Wyandotte Jaycees, an organization for 21-40 year olds that do project management through community service and leadership development. At the time it sounded like a cool organization where we could meet people, but maybe get involved in the community at the same time. My husband and I joined this organization of volunteers in April 2005 and we haven’t looked back.
This weekend I had the chance to speak with young volunteers that spend countless hours dedicating their free time to raise money, community awareness and help their local business and their city councils solve problems all over our great state of Michigan. This Michigan Jaycee event was to celebrate a year of service and dedication to Michigan communities in 2012 and ring in the New Year to be filled with more volunteer opportunities for young leadership in Michigan in 2013. Everyone attending this event had a story about volunteerism much like the one I talked about above. Most importantly the 300 or so attendees of this weekend’s events were doing the proactive positive things that are so needed in 40 communities around the state.
While the organization that I donate my time and efforts to is just one of many amazing organizations in our state, I am writing this blog entry today to share with you the inspiration that I felt this past weekend by the young leadership we have in Michigan and the hope that should be shared for the future of our local communities.
This weekend I saw local organizations that raised over $100,000 for charitable organizations and worked with their city councils to take over logistics and planning issues for events and benefits that would move forward the economies and progress that is so badly needed in many Michigan communities. New partnerships were formed with business to develop young leaders across our state to drive forward the change that we need to see happen. The most touching moment of the weekend was the swearing in of a brand new member who is dedicating his life to service to humanity, live on Skype from Kabul, Afghanistan. (Yes, he joined the Wyandotte Jaycees.)
While I was humbled by the amazing organization that I belong to, I can say that in Michigan, we now have the best time ever to drive forward lasting change in our local communities with a crowd of young people that want to see it happen. “According to America’s Civic Health Index of 2009, “Millennials lead the way in volunteering,” with 43% of Millennials (compared to 35% of Baby Boomers participating in volunteer activities (National Conference on Citizenship 2009).”(Ref. https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/bitstream/handle/10822/553863/patuskyTasha.pdf?sequence=1) The new generations want to get out there and do something they just aren’t sure how!
But, we currently only have 22% of the active population going out to dedicate time to a cause that can make positive change in Michigan. (Ref. Corporation for National & Community Service Database of Volunteers by State, http://www.volunteeringinamerica.gov )
Whether it is through the Jaycees, the Rotary, the American Cancer Society or International business development, I can say that now is the time to seek out opportunities to volunteer in service to your community because the climate in Michigan is encouraging for positive change. In volunteering time for others, you will feel a pride that can only be feltupon accomplishment of something great.
I am and will always be a proud civil servant. Cheers to the volunteers in our local community and across the world today. You are what moves forward the needs in our local communities.