By Chelsea Lienhard, CCNYPA*VISTA Leader
On Wednesday, 9/11, Americans across the country volunteered in their communities to commemorate the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance. Among this group of people that served are the dedicated members of AmeriCorps, including the CCNYPA*VISTAs.
This day of unity and charitable service was started in 2002 by the nonprofit group MyGoodDeed. They garnered support from families that were affected by the attacks at the World Trade Center to create a permanent and positive way to observe this day every year. Congress later designated September 11th as "Patriot Day," and requested the observance of 9/11 as an annually recognized "National Day of Service and Remembrance." Since then, events are held nationwide by hundreds of nonprofit groups, schools, and businesses. Nearly 30 million Americans annually engage in various forms of charitable service through volunteering, donating to charities, and simply doing good deeds.
This year, CCNYPA*VISTAs served in a plethora of ways including community cleanups, meal preparations, assisting in set-up for large events, and even volunteering at animal shelters/rescues! Taking part in the 9/11 Day of Service is a requirement when taking on the VISTA role, but it means something more to us besides getting out of the office for the day. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word ‘service’ has many different definitions, so I asked the cohort, what does service mean to you?
As you can see, we don’t just serve because it’s part of our job description, but because of what it means to us individually. To me, service means altruism. Volunteering in my community leaves me with a genuine satisfaction and I don’t expect anything in return. Though, you might call this reciprocal altruism because of the “helper’s high” sensation I feel afterwards. No matter what and how we serve, we certainly feel some type of fulfillment from it.
I recently saw a quote about serving/volunteering, and I think it pretty much sums up why we serve as VISTAs and wraps up what service means.
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” – Anonymous
Welcome to the CCNYPA*VISTA Blog, written for VISTAs, by VISTAs!