By Tami Farber
For more than 20 years, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, which returns Monday, has inspired individuals to volunteer their time to improve their communities.
As we look to 2017 and the challenges our communities face, it is important to consider how community service can help us feel more connected to our neighbors and our neighborhoods.
Here at the YMCA of Snohomish County we’re encouraging everyone to use Monday as a call to action — to get involved — in large or small ways — and make our communities better.
The Y’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion advances its mission and is critical to building support and inspiring action throughout Snohomish County. On Monday, local YMCA teens will participate in A Day On, volunteering for multiple projects throughout the county. This is their way to celebrate community by helping others and improving the community we live in.
In our busy day-to-day lives, volunteering can quickly take a backseat to other obligations and priorities. In fact, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, volunteering has seen a decline in the United States; only 24.9 percent of American adults volunteered in 2015, the lowest rate since the government began collecting this data 14 years ago.
Our communities need volunteers to keep them strong. The YMCA of Snohomish County relies on volunteers to deliver on its mission to inspire, nurture and strengthen culturally vibrant communities through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.
Each year nearly 2,000 volunteers offer valuable assistance with policies, programs and activities, donating more than 34,000 hours of service to the YMCA of Snohomish County and its six facility branches (Everett, Marysville, Mill Creek, Monroe, Mukilteo and Stanwood-Camano) and its Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) affiliate. This includes doing everything from serving on boards to mentoring youth in our after-school and BBBS programs. The commitment to giving back from all of our volunteers helps improve the lives of thousands of kids, adults and families.
Additionally, while the community benefits from a volunteer’s work, the volunteer benefits as well. A recent Gallup poll found that 9 out of 10 people said they receive an emotional boost from doing kind things for other people. It’s this kind of emotional boost that will bring us together as a nation.
This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service we urge you to find a program or organization that is meaningful to you and give them a call. You’ll certainly be glad you did.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the YMCA go to ymca-snoco.org/volunteer.
Tami Farber is the vice president of Equity, Advancement and Global Engagement for the YMCA of Snohomish County.