As I write this we’re expecting our 6th day of 100 degrees or warmer this summer – part of a nationwide heat wave. Appropriately enough, NBC Nightly News recently reported on the 110th anniversary of the air conditioner and how it “changed our lives forever.” The advent of air conditioning changed how we work, play, eat, sleep, dress … the list goes on. While I wouldn’t give it up, when homes became air conditioned, people moved inside and away from the community they found in keeping cool in shady parks, porches and yards.
I spend time thinking about changing lives by strengthening community – through volunteering. Sometimes we volunteer and hope we improve someone’s life. Other times we know we did, like when we see a child’s face light up when they master a new word in the books that we volunteer to read with them each week. We know that volunteer readers and tutors can help keep kids in school, improve their chances at graduating on time and changing their lives forever after that. Our own lives change, too, when we volunteer. We feel better -- physically, mentally and spiritually.
We are unlikely to ever celebrate the anniversary of the first volunteer effort that changed a life, but United Way Worldwide is celebrating its 125th anniversary of changing lives by galvanizing a movement to advance the common good. This movement plays out locally through initiatives like United Way of Brazoria County’s annual Day of Action effort to provide fans to needy people living without air conditioning. And through NFL players recruiting volunteer readers, tutors and mentors. The list goes on.
Do you remember when you first volunteered? We’d love to hear about it. Or why not make today the day you pledged to read, tutor or mentor a student? Will today be the anniversary of your commitment to change a life?