Today is not just any day off from work (if you have it off). Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, a national day to honor Dr. King’s legacy by giving back. It’s a day to celebrate freedom, to inspire action, and to instill hope.
Today is a day to recognize how one man’s story has inspired, and continues to inspire, an entire nation across genders, races and generations. After all, we as nonprofits, as volunteer coordinators, as people working day to day to engage people in our work, what is it that we really do? Each day we try to instill hope in others, so that they realize they can make a difference with their actions.
Storytelling is one of our most valuable tools for creating this hope. The story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a great example. You might also share the stories of the people in your community whom your organization has helped, or the volunteers who give their free time in service to your vision. By relating our work to the stories of our inspiring community members, hope begins to build on itself – it can go “viral.”
Artist and former economist Asnat Greenberg recognized this, and created a book that tells the stories of people who spend their lives in service and kindness to others. “Secrets of Kindness: A Journey Among Good People” is like a refreshed “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”
The interviewees form a fascinating mosaic of diversity, with religious and secular leaders, Jews and Muslims, young and old, rich and poor. And yet they all have the same basic drive that guides them: Kindness to others. And this basic fact is where the hope comes from.
I recommend you read the stories in this book, and think about how you can create narratives like these around your work and that of your volunteers.
And remember – today on MLK Day of Service as well as the rest of the year – your stories can create hope that just might snowball into something bigger. Your story and that of your volunteers might just be the next great legacy, inspiring hundreds of millions of people to take action and make change, just like Dr. King.
What is inspiring you today?