Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

This is the first year in a while I’ve been able to think of MLK Day as an actual holiday, i.e., a break from the usual routine. In previous years, work or school have continued on this particular holiday without much acknowledgement. Private schools typically don’t  federal holidays and many employers don’t see it as a priority, partly because it comes relatively soon after the holiday season. But I know there are other, more complicated reasons for its marginalization. I won’t get into that here, but it’s something on which to meditate.

I do love the notion that this holiday is best spent as a day of service. While I’m not working at a soup kitchen or a Habitat for Humanity build, I have decided to use today to catch up on my volunteer endeavors. Right now I have three volunteer commitments: 1) as a fundraising committee member for my undergraduate alma mater, 2) as an editor for Seven by Twenty, and 3) as a Communications Manager for the Starfish Foundation, a nonprofit organization which assists at-risk youth in Ecuador in finishing their educations.

Starfish is a relatively new project for me. I’m still getting to know the organization and its members. I’m still figuring out what needs to be done to improve its social media efforts and increase its visibility. But I’m really excited to be engaged more thoroughly in a volunteer endeavor. Volunteerism has often been a critical aspect of my adult life. When I struggled to find employment after college, I volunteered to fill my time and, more importantly, to feel more purposeful. To me, volunteering has very little to do with padding your resume. Yes, I like to include these positions because they reflect how I spend my time. But they’re not for career advancement. They’re for personal development. Community engagement. It’s not always easy to feel connected to your fellow humans, but volunteering has always been a way for me to do that.

And considering Dr. King’s message–of universal community and of shared humanity–it seems quite right to spend today engaging, however I can, with those around me.

I’m also going to see Selma today. I didn’t deliberately put it off until the holiday, but I did want to see it by now if I could. I’m hoping the theater is full.

How are you spending MLK Day? What are your favorite volunteer projects?

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