Each year, the third Monday in January is designated as MLK Day - the only federal holiday observed as a day of service. Across the country, individuals and groups will donate their time to community projects, honoring the commitment to service and community exemplified in the life of Dr. King.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is not intended to be a one-day-only event. It is a reminder that creating a caring and supportive community means working to meet daily needs as well as finding long-term solutions for social problems, and empowering individuals to take ownership of their role in those solutions. This is not something that happens overnight, but requires continual and thoughtful action.
The Governor’s Office has issued a call to service for all Iowans, proposing that by the year 2015, Iowa will be the national leader for service and volunteerism. Volunteer Iowa is assisting in this effort by asking Iowans to volunteer 50 hours in honor of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech. Although many Iowans currently volunteer throughout the year, studies have shown that volunteers serving 50 hours a year not only saw greater personal benefit in serving, but actually created longer-term solutions for the problems in their communities. Volunteer Iowa has helped to create the “What’s Your 50?” initiative as a way to strengthen Iowa communities and support Iowa development in education, health and job creation.
The United Way of East Central Iowa, Mount Mercy University, Coe College, Cornell College, HACAP, ISU Linn County Extension and other organizations in the Cedar Rapids area have joined together to offer volunteers a chance to not only make a difference for a day, but a commitment to change our community throughout the year. Throughout the month of January, these and other agencies will be collecting pledges and connecting volunteers with agencies that can help them fulfill those commitments.
To find volunteer opportunities and service agencies in your area, or to learn more about the “What’s Your 50?” campaign, go to www.unitedwayofeastcentraliowa.org. To find out more about the governor’s “What’s Your 50?” campaign, go to www.volunteeriowa.org or follow @volunteeriowa #whatsyour50 on Twitter.