Pledge a Day of Service

volunteer_photoIf you’re like millions of Americans, you probably made a few New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps you pledged to spend more time with your family, lose a few pounds, pay down your bills, or save more money. However, there may be one resolution you never considered: giving back to the community where you’ve chosen to live, work and raise a family. Fortunately, it’s never too late to add another resolution to your list and there is no better time to do so than today.

Tomorrow, people across our nation will celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. This day, is a time when we celebrate the life and legacy of an individual who inspired a nation and as the late Coretta Scott King once said, “brought hope and healing to America.” Dr. King showed the world the difference one individual could make and the strength of holding true to our core values of courage, honesty, compassion and service.

Dr. King envisioned a nation rooted in the principle of equality and envisioned a future in which our nation works together to create opportunity for all. This is why President Reagan signed the law creating a federal holiday on Dr. King’s birthday and President Clinton signed into law the bill designating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a national day of service.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'” For this reason, we feel the greatest way we could honor Dr. King is to make a commitment, a new resolution, to give back to our community.

This Monday, make a commitment to do some good in our community. It doesn’t have to be a large act; even the smallest acts of kindness make our community a better place to live.

Volunteer opportunities exist which fit the skills and interests of every person living in our community. Every day, local schools, nonprofits, community and civic groups (such as American Business Club) are in need of caring individuals looking to make a positive impact in our community.

Whether your passion is delivering a meal for a homebound senior, reading with children, or planting trees in your neighborhood, there is an opportunity for you to give back.

As an organization which supports the efforts of community volunteers, we provide a volunteer website, Get Connected, where you can easily respond to local volunteer events and opportunities. Get Connected (sponsored by U.S. Bank) features dozens of local volunteer opportunities ranging from Springfield Public Schools Making the Grade Conference to volunteer drivers for the Central Illinois Community Blood Center. The website offers an easy way to find volunteer opportunities and events that fit your for interests and support the causes your care about.

Today, more than eighty local nonprofits and groups have signed up to post volunteer opportunities on the website. Likewise, more than 1,600 volunteers have registered to respond to local needs. We encourage you to join our community of volunteers and visit Get Connected today.

You can see all our local opportunities by clicking on Volunteer. In addition, we encourage local agencies not signed up to do so today; and, those using the platform to continue to update their volunteer opportunities.

Tomorrow, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, should encourage all of us to take a step, no matter how large or small, towards making our community a better place to live, work and raise children. The day should serve as a reminder of Dr. King’s vision of making our communities’ places where we all strive to ensure opportunity for all and where simple acts of kindness don’t occur just one day a year, but rather every day of the year.

John Kelker is the president at United Way of Central Illinois. Learn more at Look for United Way columns weekly in Our Towns.