Letter: Martin Luther King Jr. Day is perfect time to do something for the community

At YMCAs across the nation, more than half a million volunteers provide crucial support that strengthens our communities. Whether serving on the board of directors or tutoring students in an after-school program (and everything in between), the Y relies on the service of others to make an impact in our neighborhoods. Here in New Orleans, the YMCA of Greater New Orleans and Dryades YMCA rely on the help of more than 1,200 volunteers year-round to provide a welcoming place for everyone to learn, grow and thrive.

As we look to 2014 and the challenges our communities face, it is important to start thinking about how community service not only benefits the individual who’s giving back but the community as a whole. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, Jan. 20, the YMCA of Greater New Orleans encourages residents of New Orleans to honor Dr. King’s legacy by not only giving back and supporting our neighbors but by reflecting on how each act of community service is a small part of a larger movement to make things better. A rising tide lifts all ships, and individuals dedicated to community service lift our communities.

Nonprofit organizations like the Y can help individuals find that emotional boost by providing rewarding experiences that benefit the community as a whole. In New Orleans, volunteers at the YMCA of Greater New Orleans prepared, cooked and delivered 5,000 meals on Thanksgiving Day to homebound seniors. Home for the Holidays meal recipient Christian shared, “After making it inside and thanking them, I began to shed tears. I shall never forget this Thanksgiving Day, not ever.”

Regardless of whether you give your time to the Y, your church, animal shelter or organize an activity with your friends and neighbors, getting and staying involved in community service is what is important. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is the perfect time to get into a community service frame of mind.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the YMCA of Greater New Orleans and Dryades YMCA, please contact Louis Ogle at louiso@ymcaneworleans.org or Greg Phillips at gphillips@dryadesymca.com.

Gordon Wage

CEO, YMCA of Greater New Orleans

Greg Phillips

COO, Dryades YMCA