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January 02, 2014

Commit to Community Service

Commit to Community Service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Contributing to the greater good strengthens the individual and the community

By Baron Herdelin-Doherty, President and CEO, YMCA of San Diego County

At Ys across the nation, more than half a million volunteers provide crucial support that strengthens our communities. Whether serving on the board of directors or tutoring students in an afterschool program (and everything in between), the Y relies on the service of others to make an impact in our neighborhoods. Here in San Diego County, the Y relies on the help of 5348 volunteers to provide a welcoming place for everyone to learn, grow and thrive.

As we look to 2014 and the challenges our communities face, it is important to start thinking about how community service not only benefits the individual who’s giving back, but the community as a whole. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, Jan. 20, the YMCA of San Diego County encourages residents of our communities to honor Dr. King’s Legacy by not only giving back and supporting our neighbors, but by reflecting on how each act of community service is a small part of a larger movement to make things better. A rising tide lifts all ships, and individuals dedicated to community service lift our communities.

Nonprofit organizations like the Y can help individuals find that emotional boost by providing rewarding experiences that benefit the community as a whole. In Southeast San Diego volunteers at the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA work to support and respond to families impacted by an act of violence as part of a Community Response Team.

Recently, 18 students from Bishop High School volunteered and participated on the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA Community Response Team. They had the opportunity to work directly with mothers from the program to conduct research on their perspective of peace. The students were asked to view violence in ways they may not have quite understood before. After completing the project, one student wrote, “I learned that I want to live my life with compassion. I want to live my life doing good things to others without expecting anything back.”

Regardless of whether you give your time to the Y, your church, animal shelter or organize an activity with your friends and neighbors, getting and staying involved in community service is what is important. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is the perfect time to get into a community service frame of mind.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the YMCA of San Diego County please visit http://www.ymca.org/volunteer.html.

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