Friday, January 25, 2013

Making One Day Last All Year Long

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said many wise things in his too-short lifetime. The quote above is one of my favorites. No matter what you do for a living, where you live or your education level, serving others is something anyone can do. There are people in need all around us and sometimes doing something you perceive as simple can actually change a person’s life.
Dr. King not only said these words, but he lived them. I love that when we pause as a country to remember him and his tremendous work in January, it’s not just a day off of work or school but a day that can change lives. It’s a “day on, not a day off.” Since 1994 when Congress declared the holiday as a national day of service, groups and individuals around the country have come together to strengthen their communities and empower each other to make a difference.

This past Monday, I was honored to take part in the 18th annual Greater Philadelphia area’s day of service at Girard College. The signature project this year was the distribution of 200 netbooks to residents of the Philadelphia Housing Authority designed to help bridge the digital divide. Beyond just handing out the technology, we also helped set recipients up and showed them how to search and apply for jobs online. As we learned from Todd Bernstein, founder and director of the 18th annual Greater Philadelphia Day of Service, 41 percent of Philadelphia households do not have internet access. This really puts members of our community at a disadvantage. It’s not just about surfing the web - whether it’s research for school, job applications, or a way to find vital resources, the Internet has become a necessity in our daily lives.

Additionally, other UnitedHealthcare employees staffed the wellness fair and kids’ carnival at the event. The fair allowed us to help members of the community get the information and preventative tools they need to stay healthy. And the kid’s carnival taught children about Dr. King, helping to pass along his dream and inspiration of peace and equality to a whole new generation.

It was an amazing experience to be part of such an important and momentous day.  As I volunteered on Monday with about 110,000 others at numerous projects all around the Delaware Valley, I felt like we were doing true justice to such an honorable man.

But reflecting on the event a few days later, I’m reminded of the importance of keeping Dr. King’s vision alive every day. We need to help each other out and support our communities at every chance. Need doesn’t just wait for a special day in January; it’s always around us. I encourage all of us to carry around Dr. King’s message in our hearts so that when the opportunity presents itself, we can serve with a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love!

UHC Team displays MLK collage

Sue Schick with her netbook partner

Young visitor at Kids Carnival spins the "Food For Thought Wheel"

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