Solidarity and service has never been more important this MLK Day
This upcoming Monday, January 21, local Goodwill organizations across the country will recognize Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day. As we prepare to celebrate this holiday in honor of the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of America’s most prominent civil rights leaders, I find myself thinking a lot about the man, of what he gave to all of us, and what he dreamed could be.
At a time when our country and world is becoming increasingly divided, the power of his message of solidarity and commitment to serving others has never been more important or more necessary.
Dr. King said, “Our goal is to create a beloved community, and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” The communities to which we belong enrich and enhance our lives in countless ways. They inspire and strengthen us. They comfort and nurture us. They make us better together than we could ever hope to be alone. Next Monday, January 21, provides far more than an opportunity to simply remember Dr. King. It is an invitation to put his words into action – action that builds lives and strengthens those communities that we depend on, and that depend on us. It is an opportunity to turn a day of service into a lifetime of service.
Seattle Goodwill has a proud history of serving the community and is fortunate to have a cadre of dedicated volunteers who help do this important work. Seattle Goodwill itself was created by volunteers who took the idea of collecting used clothes, providing jobs to people who repaired them, and sold the items to fund services to the most vulnerable populations. The mission of Goodwill has held strong for over 90 years through the service provided by leadership and staff, the volunteer efforts of board members, advocates, and others and the generosity of our donors who support the donated goods enterprise.
As a society, as a country and as a people we honor and revere the strength of the individual — the strength to set our own course in life, to drive our own success and to achieve great things. But no matter our circumstances, we each achieve what we can because of the power of a supportive community around us. We are all products of a compassionate community — to overcome challenges, change our lives and dream to achieve greatness.
We see the transformative power of a very special community every day at Goodwill. Each of our five Job Training and Education Centers is a hub for thousands of people each year to get training and support from others. Goodwill students benefit from a connected community that provides aid, guidance and care as they navigate a life that can be full of barriers. A student may gain confidence as they practice speaking English with a caring instructor and among other students who also feel a long way from home. A case manager may help secure a connection to stable housing or provide a voucher for health care services so that a student is safe and healthy. From volunteers, to employees, to cultural groups and other nonprofits, so many people come together to make this special community. The strength of community and togetherness resonate throughout our culture — in so many ways they define who we are and enable all that we accomplish. But in today’s social and political climate we are experiencing a shift — a tendency to move away from our communities and toward our own tribes. We have become less tolerant of others’ opinions and seek out the company of those who share our singular points of view. As we contemplate the current state of our country and our world, and consider it in the context of Dr. King’s message, where does that leave us?
Perhaps Martin Luther King Jr. Day presents the perfect opportunity to begin to change this narrative. Dr. King himself invited us to consider what he called life’s most persistent and urgent question: “What are you doing for others?” Qualitatively, we can change our souls by recognizing more of the common ground on which we all stand. Quantitatively, we can expand the impact on our own communities and the world around us just by deciding to do more for others. The “beloved community” is within our reach.
Dr. King said “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” We hope you are inspired by this great man to serve your community as well. Join us in making a powerful impact in the lives of others this MLK Day. Take a moment to reflect on how you can bridge gaps in your communities, open your mind to others’ viewpoints or considering volunteering for a local community-based organization you believe in.
Daryl J. Campbell, Seattle Goodwill President & CEO
Please take a minute to view the various community opportunites to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy:
7TH ANNUAL REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. PRAYER BREAKFAST
When: 7-8:30 am Monday, January 21
Where: The Sheraton in Seattle
More info: http://www.mlkprayerbreakfast.com
CELEBRATE THE LIFE AND WORK OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
When: Noon-1:30 pm Friday, January 18
Where: Mount Zion Baptist Church
More info: http://seattlecolleges.edu/mlk