by Rafael Rolon-Muniz, NACDD Program Coordinator
“The time is always right to do what is right.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
National Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is a nationwide effort to transform the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into a day of community service that helps solve social problems. NACDD honors and celebrates the life of Dr. King and the mark on history left by his actions.
Service was an important part of my experience growing up. My family always believed that if you had the opportunity to help others and make a change you should do something about it. As a teacher, my mom took part in her schools’ Day of service and would take me along to help. I remember working on green pick up sites as well as Special Olympics that were held in Puerto Rico. The joy always came when I had the opportunity to see other people smile and get excited. Through my time in college in DC, I had the opportunity to be a part of a community service organization. There, I worked with various soup kitchens, the National Air and Space Museum, and so many other local organizations to be of service to do the DC communities.
One of my favorite events was working at a soup kitchen called Charlie’s Place. There, the head chef would always ask the volunteers once they were done giving out clothes, to sit down and talk to the clients. It was always important to him that the volunteers not just work for the clients but get to know them. Whenever I would lead volunteers from the organization, I would attempt to introduce them to the clients so that they could ignite their own connection and find their own reason to volunteer.
That was the key: connection. Service is not about working for two to four hours and then leaving. It’s about working with people to make a difference, talking to them, and finding ways to help make long term changes. On this Day of Service, we ask all of you to be present and act any way you can and be of service.