What is Service

n.: The action of helping or doing work for someone.

Today we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr National Day of Service.  “It’s not a day off, but a day on” as they say here in AmeriCorps.  And so the hundreds and thousands of Corps Members from various programs poured out into the streets and spent the day throughout communities across the nation, serving those less fortunate.

I spent the morning with my team, helping to repaint the all-purpose room at the Red Fern Community Center in Far Rockaway.  Working alongside Summit 5 (another FEMA Corps team from Vicksburg), we spread paint over the walls at record pace.  We enjoyed the time together as conversations renged from conspiracy theries to art, singing along to Les Mis to discussing literature, family to ‘war stories’ from our various adventures in and out of AmeriCorps.

We walked away knowing that we were able to make a difference in this community that had been devestated months before.  As we talked, we all came to understand that there is so much more to service than taking action.

A good friend once told me that what I do changes the world.  In the moment, I laughed because all I was seeing wer my own footsteps along this path to life.  Years later, I look back and cant even begin to comprehend how many lives I have touched through the simple action of showing up to serve.

This is my job.  Service.  But it is so much bigger than any of us can comprehend.

Our actions may not alter the rotation of the world, nor will they stop the night from swallowing the sun or the changing of the seasons, but our service here in this world can change the world for that one individual.  Our work, our kind words, a passing smile can guide someone back to the rising sun, or alter the seasons of their lives, bringing a new beginning.  Or understanding.

I catch myself saying “Whats the big deal, we only painted one room and part of a hallway.” But then I am reminded of the hundreds of children and young adults who use the community center each week.  In just a short bit of time, we altered all their lives.  We gave them hope.  A new beginning.

Super Storm Sandy took so much away from these communities that we find ourselves in.  Between the flooding and the fear of what is to come, we find that there are thousands, if not millions of individuals who now find themselves somewhere in the dark, both literally and figuratively.  If we can be the ones to lead them, point them towards the coming sunrise, give them hope of a new tomorrow, then we have changed their world.

I know that service is so much more than taking action.  Service is learning how to change peoples lives through the small actions.

Everyone can be great… because everyone can serve.
– Martin Luther King, Jr

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God Bless and PEACE

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