It’s hard to say where my passion for helping others came from. To me, it’s just part of who I am. It’s what I enjoy. I’ve always wanted to be of service to others, and this is something I’ve worked to instill in my daughter, Arrice. As she gets ready to head off to medical school this fall, I can’t help but be proud and think back on how the times we spent volunteering together helped shape who she is today.
My daughter and I heading out to serve on MLK Day. If I stop to think about it, I guess I’ve been volunteering and helping others my whole life. When I was a girl, I loved holding the door open for people, carrying grocery bags for elderly neighbors and helping other kids on my block with reading and math. It was just something I did on my own. A DAY ON, NOT A DAY OFF For me, today is not a vacation day. It’s a day of service. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” 2016 marked my 14th year volunteering as part of my employer’s MLK Day of Service. Each year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan hosts a day of celebration and volunteer service with City Year Detroit. I started bringing my daughter Arrice to serve with me when she was about eight years old as a way to expose her to the true meaning of MLK Day – a day on, not a day off. One of the first volunteer projects we did together was helping with renovations to Cody High School in Detroit. Working side-by-side, knowing we were improving the learning environment for those students, gave us a shared sense of purpose. Each year, we took on another project together, allowing Arrice to grow up seeing the impact she can make just by taking time to lend a hand. A RIPPLE EFFECT Flash forward 10 years and Arrice was headed off to her first year of college as an undergraduate student at Yale. During her time there, she founded a student-run organization with the mission to promote the human side of healing with a focus on elderly patients. When Arrice graduated last spring, she made the decision to take a year away from studies and focus on community service. She applied and was accepted to join City Year Detroit, the same organization we worked alongside at Cody High School many years before. She’s spent the last six months doing service work across metro Detroit as an AmeriCorps member with City Year. Part of her other volunteer efforts include spending time at a center on Detroit’s east side last summer. There, she provided help for underserved people, including helping them sign up for health insurance and get the medical care they need. When her service year is over this fall, Arrice will be going into medical school and plans to specialize in women’s health. She’s currently weighing her options, but has a strong desire to be of service in the city of Detroit. No matter where she ends up, I’m certain of one thing—her passion for helping others will make a difference in the lives of her future patients. GETTING STARTED WITH GIVING Want to get your family involved in giving back to the community? Here are a few helpful tips for getting started:
- Set aside time. As parents, it’s important for us to show our children that everything doesn’t require money. Giving your time and energy can make a big difference. Set aside time for volunteering each week, month or year – whatever works for your family.
- Talk to your employer. One of the things I appreciate most about working for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the opportunity to do things I enjoy as a member of the Blues Caring Crew. Ask your employer if there’s a corporate volunteer program you can join. If one doesn’t exist yet, start one! You can also use tools like volunteermatch.org to find opportunities near you.
- Make the holidays a day on. The holidays are time for loved ones and celebrations, but they can also be a great opportunity to give back. Nonprofit organizations are often business-as-usual on major holidays. My daughter and I spend each Thanksgiving and Christmas morning packaging food for Meals on Wheels.
This post is part of a storytelling series we call, “Beyond the Card.” These stories will feature Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members, employees, and communities who are making meaningful differences throughout our state. We invite you to follow Beyond the Card stories here at MIBluesPerspectives.com and through the hashtag, #BeyondtheCard on our social channels. If you have a story you would like to share, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo credit: D Coetzee (main), Courtesy Image (thumbnail)