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, ¢‰âÒI 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.¢‰âÂå

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.