January 12, 2011

The Benefits of Service

Filed under: Event — Tags: , , , , , , — Marc Peters @ 9:00 am

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

A lot of the country is looking forward to the upcoming three-day weekend: Saturday, Sunday and the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Three days off right? Rather than taking Monday as an extra day for rest and relaxation, I encourage you to consider spending (at least part of the) day serving others. This holiday is meant to honor a man who has become a legend for the service he did for our country. The least we can do is spend one day giving back.

I feel not only a desire to serve, but also an obligation. I would not be where I am today if people had not looked after me. I went through a severe depressive episode in high school. If my teachers hadn’t gone above and beyond to protect me and nurse me back to full health before sending me off to college, I might not be here at all. Their only motivation was love. When I spent most of my college career recovering from a psychotic break, my professors carried me until I was able to walk on my own. I am giving back because I owe it to all the people who’ve made me who I am. I can’t say for sure, but I’m betting that you can think of people in your own life whose service has meant the world to you.

Every day I wake up hoping to serve one person, to make one person think something new, to inspire one person to do something different. It’s then and only then that I feel as though I’ve lived up to what I was called to do. It’s then and only then that I feel as though I’ve made a deposit on paying down my debt of gratitude. However, service isn’t only about giving back. It can be restorative.

“Volunteers have improved mental health, including less depression than those who don’t serve others. While younger volunteers also receive health benefits from volunteering, volunteers age sixty and older benefit more greatly.” – Shirley Sagawa, The American Way to Change: How National Service and Volunteers are Transforming America

When I’m depressed – trapped in the mental prison – nothing pulls me out faster than focusing on the needs of someone else. Serving others can be a tremendous reminder of a world beyond ourselves. Depression is tremendously isolating. I, like most, get trapped in a negative wave of thinking. I grasp desperately for something to hold onto. Service is that lifesaver for me. It can also be a great stress reliever and a way to build lasting bonds and friendships. I’ve found nothing more meaningful than uniting with others beyond a common goal. What do you think keeps me coming back to BringChange2Mind?

I hope that you will consider serving in your community on Monday and throughout the year. If you want to find a place to serve, visit the My Nation page on ServiceNation to find a service event in your area.




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