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United Way Blog

Mandela Day Inspires Volunteers throughout the World

Nelson Mandela once said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead."   As the former president of South Africa celebrates his 95th birthday, people the world over are heeding the great leader’s call to action. 

In 2009 the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted July 18 as Nelson Mandela International Day.  On Mandela Day, all of us are challenged to spend at least 67 minutes doing good work in our communities in honor of the 67 years that Mandela gave in service and sacrifice.

At United Way, we take Nelson Mandela’s words to heart.  One difference we are trying to make is to help make sure that every child will graduate from high school on time, with a goal of halving the number of high school dropouts in the U.S. by 2018.  United Way is mobilizing one million volunteer readers, tutors and mentors to commit to improving early grade literacy and helping young children stay in school and on track to a better life.

Now is a good time to think about what difference you could make to the lives of others.  In 67 minutes, you could:

  • Pledge to become a volunteer reader, tutor or mentor, and learn what you can do to get started today;
  • Buy children’s books – or collect them from friends or coworkers -- to donate to your local library or a group serving low-income children;
  • Find your local United Way and contact them about how to get involved in reading,  tutoring or mentoring programs; and
  • Read about how mentors can change a life.

Mandela also said, “We can change the world and make it a better place.  It is in your hands to make a difference.” 

He’s passed the baton to us.  Let’s celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela by carrying the spirit of service and compassion forward on Mandela Day, and every day.