By David Williams, Guest Columnist – Dec. 28, 2017
As part of MLK50, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Leadership Memphis and Volunteer Memphis, in a team effort with many partners, are producing MLK Days of Service — four days of service projects from Jan. 12-15.
Dr. King once wrote, “Everybody can be great because anyone can serve.” He left us with an amazing legacy and belief in service to others.
It is my belief that if anyone can serve, that means you can serve, too.
Last year, more than 2,000 people volunteered for 72 MLK Days of Service projects. This year we are aiming for 500 service projects and 5,000 volunteers. So, what can you do to be part of it? What can you do to help make the 2018 MLK Days of Service a success?
Service partners are essential. We need nonprofit organizations, municipalities, faith organizations, school systems and others to identify and deliver service projects for volunteers. And we are committed to expanding volunteer opportunities beyond Shelby County. We are asking our friends in DeSoto, Marshall, Tunica, Crittenden, Fayette and Tate counties to join us. If you lead such an entity, serve on the board of directors, or are already one of their super volunteers, please be a champion and ensure your organization is signed up and actively participating in this incredible weekend of service.
Community partners are welcome. There are many wonderful organizations with large constituencies who, as community partners, are helping get the word out. We want company teams, families, groups, friends and caring individuals to participate — but to do so they need to know about and perhaps be encouraged to register for a volunteer opportunity. That’s where our community partners come in. We are so thankful at how they spread the word and connect others to us to volunteer, especially for MLK Days of Service.
Volunteers are lifted up. More than 300,000 people in the Memphis area volunteer each calendar year. We certainly lift those volunteers up for their service to others. They tell us they get as much or more through their service as those they serve. Nevertheless, through their service, they make a difference in the lives of our neighbors, friends, co-workers and families. What a gift you give when you give of yourself. If you don’t want to be part of a formal volunteer team, you can check out our website for “do it yourself” (DIY) volunteer opportunities for you and your group or family.
We ask you to be part of MLK Days of Service in some way. Many of the volunteer opportunities will only take a couple of hours. Some are longer. But each is important. Each will make our community better. Each will change lives. Maybe even yours.
To find out more about MLK Days of Service, contact Volunteer Memphis by visiting volunteermemphis.org or calling 901-278-0016.
David Williams is president/CEO of Leadership Memphis. Volunteer Memphis is an action initiative of Leadership Memphis.