If we gathered all the service projects we have created – and organized them by topic so we could see what we have, we would find overwhelming evidence that as a people, we are wonderfully equipped with capability.
We already have so much of what we need. Beyond the project details, there is an incredibly inspirational quality in the way we step up to the plate to help and come together when we need each other.
The projects and outcomes alone are inspiring, but there’s more. There are the project originators – the stories about how they not only saw a need, and a solution but were drawn into a sense of commitment that changed the direction of their lives. They talk of the satisfaction they find in their service work. They have a clear sense of purpose. They innovate. They work hard, and they seem happy. They are outstanding individuals who reveal our capability as well.
When a crisis occurs – in our community, in another state or across the globe – we demonstrate this capability. We rally to help, to reach out, to problem solve. We organize. We have a track record for strong, quick response – and we try to sustain these efforts to meet the level of need.
I caught a snapshot of this capability when I worked with first year college students in a service learning course. They were full of inspiration and promise, ready to engage – to bring more food to people in need in our community. They were ready to research models from other communities and meet with people to make things happen.
The director of our food bank not only came to class to talk with students about possibilities they had researched; he started attending the class and worked with them in the community. He was willing to adjust his work schedule because he also still held the belief that we could do more, that it was possible to do better.
The children in our elementary schools reflected the same energy and readiness to help. They proud to be included in helping to meet a genuine community need, and proud of their accomplishments.
A fifth grade teacher asked her students to graph food donation outcomes, connecting their service work to academics. When sixth grade students were asked to share personal reflections, they wrote with enthusiasm as community members, expressing the hope that more schools would adopt the program.
We have so much to bring to the table – we have problem solved, we have developed and sustained solutions, we continue to innovate, and we continue to care – and we see the evidences of the same in our youth. We – as a people – are the inspiration that can take us forward into solution-making that is off the charts.