What Difference Will You Make?
Nelson Mandela lived his life by three rules: Free yourself. Free others. Serve every day.
As a lawyer and then as a political prisoner, the great South African leader lived by those rules as he worked to free others and himself. Even from his cell on Robben Island, he served others as he fought – through his letters – for justice for the victims of apartheid.
On his birthday – celebrated worldwide as Nelson Mandela Day – let’s think about how we can apply his credo to our own lives. Service is its own form of freedom, because it is freeing to give of ourselves. When we give, advocate and volunteer, we can free others from poverty, crises, and fear.
For example, United Way of Williamson County mobilizes volunteers to improve early childhood development and invests in programs that fight food insecurity. Why? Investing in proper nutrition and educational development can free children from poverty later on. Research shows that children who enter school ready to learn are more likely to achieve early reading achievements by third grade, and consequently more likely to graduate high school on time. Those benefits stack up: students who graduate high school are more likely to find a job that pays a livable wage, live healthier lives, stay
out of the justice system, and have children who also graduate high school on time.
From July 22–27, hundreds of corporate and community volunteers will gather for our annual Stuff the Bus backpack assembly. Volunteers will sort and stuff thousands of school supply items into (free) backpacks for Williamson County students. Together, the community is ensuring that all students can start the first day of school ready to participate in classroom lessons. This is one of many ways that United Way and our community partners help children succeed.
As Mandela Day inspires people throughout the world to serve – even in small ways – today and every day, consider connecting with the United Way team about how you can help children get a good start in life. We offer various opportunities for volunteers of all ages, including reading with and tutoring young students, serving on our Youth Advisory Council, and supporting proper nutrition. All these good works stack up.
Mandela 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.” What difference will you make today? And tomorrow?
Original post by Mei Cobb, Director, Volunteer & Employee Engagement at United Way Worldwide