Within the last few weeks, questions regarding service and servant leadership have been at the forefront of my mind.
How do you get people to get involved? To care? To commit to a sustained service project?
Understandably, they are not easy questions with cut and dry answers. It’s hard enough to get someone to donate to what seems like the “fundraiser of the week” in the diner, in exchange for a cookie or just to feel good for committing the good deed of the day, but it’s a whole different struggle altogether when you want someone to keep caring.
Now, I’m not saying that slipping a few singles into a donation jar ran by a club your best buddy is in is a bad thing, or that spending an evening at the Ronald McDonald House just to get closer to that guy or gal you’ve been lowkey into for a month isn’t commendable–a positive action is still a positive action.
What I am saying is, in order to truly make an impact, in order to witness positive change, self-serving volunteerism won’t cut it.
Constant, sustained effort by a dedicated group of individuals will.
I may be biased in saying that I don’t believe millennials or generation Z just don’t care enough to commit to anything more than a few bucks in a donation jar.
I believe it’s more about a lack of well-advertised opportunity and information rather than general apathy or lack of interest in service.
Since high school, I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity and privilege to attend various service trips and perform numerous acts of service.
I can honestly say I would never be as committed to the idea of service and social welfare if it wasn’t for some key people and the fact that I was constantly surrounded by volunteer opportunities.
If I wasn’t repeatedly pushed (and sometimes forced) to attend service projects, I wouldn’t have discovered this passion.
I understand what worked for me may not work for others, but I think that if making service accessible to the general campus population, while constantly canvassing for volunteers would eventually garner sustained interest.
It may not be the interest of the entire student population, but having the sustained interest and dedication of a handful of students is better than none.
I’m not saying that everyone should quit their nine-to-five to enlist in the Peace Corps or some Non-Governmental Organization with the hopes to be the one that ends destitute poverty.
After all, service and volunteerism takes multiple forms. It isn’t always just building houses in rural Appalachia or putting in some hours at your local soup kitchen. It can be as broad as working to help or uplift others using ones privilege and skill set.
Not everyone is interested in, or cut out for, a life service or sustained volunteerism. And that’s absolutely, perfectly fine. Everyone has a unique combination of skills, interests, and passions that fluctuate and are prone to change over time.
Even if we don’t plan to dedicate our entire lives to service, having the drive to do some good in the now should always be fostered and utilized to the best of our ability.