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Op-Ed: Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day By Volunteering

Volunteering time strengthens the community and the individual, writes Judy Smith, YMCA Branch Operations Executive.

At the Y, volunteering is part of our DNA as more than half a million people donate their time and talents at Ys across the country in a variety of capacities. Whether serving on the board of directors or tutoring (and everything in between), the Y relies on volunteers to make an impact in communities.  

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, Jan. 21, the Coal Creek Family YMCA encourages residents of Issaquah, Renton, Newcastle and south Bellevue to honor Dr. King’s Legacy by not only giving back and supporting our neighbors, but by reflecting on how each of us can further activate the passion for contributing to the community that lasts all year long.  

But what does it mean to volunteer? Volunteering means more than giving your time to an organization or cause and then getting back to your life. It is about helping others, contributing to our communities and helping ourselves as well. A recent Gallup poll showed that nine out of 10 people said they receive an emotional boost from doing kind things for other people. When activated, that kind of emotional boost from contributing to the community goes from something you do to a part of who you are. 

Nonprofit organizations like the Y can help individuals find that emotional boost by providing rewarding experiences that benefit the community as a whole. In Issaquah, Renton, Newcastle and south Bellevue, volunteers at the Coal Creek Family YMCA were able to provide over 100 kids with Christmas presents this year… no children were turned away. There were at least 96 volunteers who donated their time in purchasing and wrapping gifts for families who were not able to afford them for their children. Without the help of these volunteers, parents would not have been able to enjoy the holidays. We were able to come together and provide them with a pleasant, stress-free holiday season.

Across the country, the Y helps individuals give back and assist their neighbors by offering volunteer opportunities and programs that help strengthen community. Each of our volunteers’ selflessness and willingness to roll up their sleeves to give back helps improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids, adults and families.  We’re grateful for each and every one of them and we hope you’ll join their ranks, at the Y, your church or other nonprofit service organization.  

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is the perfect time to get into a volunteer routine, to help others and yourself. We are closed on this day of remembrance to allow others to give back. To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Coal Creek Family YMCA, please contact Vicky Hinds at vhinds@seattleymca.org

-- Judy Smith, YMCA Branch Operations Executive

Send letters to the editor to jenny.manning@patch.com. Please include your first and last name, title, and city of residence.

Richard Bray January 14, 2013 at 06:42 AM
“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” - Martin Luther King Jr. This quote of Dr. King has inspired me for a long time.

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