On this day, 9/11, the National Day of Service, I was planning on posting different places that you could go serve our community. However, I decided instead to focus on the reasons behind why I serve. Afterall, 9/11 is above all else, a day of remembrance. Remembering what happened 9 years ago helps us to understand why we now have a national Day of Service.
Two months ago I wrote an essay for an application, which I’m sharing below. The question: “Why are you a part of the service movement?” seemed easy enough to answer but as I began writing, I realized that the reasons were unclear. I wrote from the heart because it’s the only way I could figure out my answer and put it into words, and it still doesn’t seem quite adequate..
Q: Why are you a part of the service movement? What is your vision for it in your community and nationwide?
A: I have always wanted to do more; for society, for friends, for my family. For the past few months, I have begun to really think about how I can become a bigger, more influential part of society. I truly feel that every person has the capacity to serve in some way, and it is our civic duty to do so if we are able. Some people are born into a somewhat easy life, able to eat, live comfortably, and receive a good education, while others are born three steps behind, into hardships like poverty or homelessness. I feel that those of us who were given opportunities to succeed should pass along whatever we can to those who need our help.
It’s also really easy to serve, and I’m not sure that everyone realizes that. For most if not all people, finding two hours a week of your time that you’re willing to give to someone or something else, is not difficult. It just requires a commitment, and the size of that commitment is completely up to the person making it. I think that the general consensus among service ‘outsiders’ is that you need to pack a suitcase and head to a 3rd world country to make a difference in this world, and that just isn’t the case. I’ve gotten people to volunteer with me, to see what it’s like, and a few of them have gone back to do it on their own elsewhere. The biggest challenge is getting people to take that first step, and my goal in participating in the service movement is to prove how easy it is and encourage others to join me.
The Call to Service from President Obama last year was a huge step in the right direction for our country, and it played a large role in the increasing numbers of volunteers. His words struck a chord in me that still resonates today: “Economic recovery is as much about what you’re doing in your communities as what we’re doing in Washington – and it’s going to take all of us, working together.” This announcement, calling on a nation to help its government, was a turning point for me in how I viewed the service movement. I think a lot of citizens thought that it was the government’s job to fix everything, when in reality, we all need to pull together if change is going to happen. I honestly never thought of service as a means to an end on such a large scale; I saw it as one person helping another. And service is, in it’s most basic form, doing something for someone else.
So when I envision the service movement and the role it would play in New York, I see people helping people. Multiplying this singular action by thousands to create a city of service. This community action would help to fill the gaps where the government is unable to step in with funding or assistance, creating a self-sustaining city that relies less on outside sources and more on each other.
I hope you found this post useful-as a way to see something inside of yourself, or just to get to know me better. Take a moment today to remember September 11, 2001. It was tragic and scary and the saddest day New York has ever seen, in my lifetime and possibly ever. But what came out of the rubble was a city that realized the power of service; the power of one person helping another, to make the next day a little better than the one before it.
Visit some websites celebrating this National Day of Service, and see how you can get involved: