“Giving is the master key to success in all applications of human life.” – Bryant McGill
Community Service gives us purpose. The small food-pantry work we do at the Martin Luther King Center and our plastic-removal mission on SEATEAM combine to have an impact on our family. We make a year-round effort – which we hope matters – in shaping our world, somehow. Are we doing enough? Definitely not. But we do what we can and that is all anyone can ask of anyone else. We think that making an effort = making a difference and is WAY easier than one might think… plus, it feels good.
We talk about community service because it’s important to talk about. Giving money is nice, helpful and needed! Though it is not the same as doing. When we do something with our hands and heart to help someone or something, the effort itself gives back to us in spades.
My parents live in the heart of the mid-west and like to go for walks in their neighborhood. I recently learned they bring along a small bag to pick up rubbish they see in the streets and sidewalks – their decision to do this inspired by our SEATEAM trash pick-ups. My heart nearly burst when I heard this…
Thanks, Dad and Debbie!
This act is easily classified a WIN-WIN-WIN. Their efforts make the streets cleaner for themselves and others (win); they feel good about doing it (win); we feel good that we inspired them to action (win).
Community service can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.
Most volunteering starts out with an altruistic mission: “We are going to HELP that person or the environment or that thing.”
And yet. When we set out to help someone or something, we end up feeling better about ourselves and find that the “work” we did, actually helped us. As if it were a feel-good trick, an ambush; we worked, yet still feel like we won. Community service is a mandate in our family. We choose to expose our kids (+ ourselves) to environmental issues, multiculturalism, diversity… What we gain from that exposure is simple: empathetic, earth-wise young adults who understand the world and their place in it.
Volunteering is one of life’s great gifts – everyone benefits.
Author Simon Sinek outlines the feel-good emotions associated with doing work you believe in as dopamine (accomplishment), serotonin (pride) and oxytocin (love). Who wouldn’t want a dose of all that a day or two each week? We identify with Sinek’s ideas about life and work. Thanks to his research and experience we know there is a science behind the reasons why it feels so good to work for causes we believe in.
a SEATEAM friend in Biscayne Bay helping to retrieve some plastic washed in with the tide.
This year, please give money to charities you believe in, absolutely. However, be sure to also reap the benefits of giving time and muscle.
So, the best gift to give this year? Easy to wrap, easy to schedule: YOU.
Rey family SEATEAM at work.
Bryant McGill is a United Nations appointed Global Champion and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. He is a prolific write and author. See more about Byrant McGill here.
If you have not heard him speak or read his books, you will love Simon Sinek and his TED talks about leadership and the biology of why we do what we do. We have read and loved two of Sinek’s books which are: Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last.
How to find community service opportunities near you? Call your church or a charity that interests you. Tell them how much time you have (i.e.: one hour per week, one day per month) and your skill set. They will pair you with some options! Otherwise, just take a bag with you on your next walk and see what you pick up…
Top photo: SEATEAM on PIPA cleaning up in Biscayne Bay.