Vicky started an online discussion yesterday about witnessing a homeless man in our community, looking cold and alone. In less than 24 hours and with more than 200 comments, an initiative was born. Blessing bags are being assembled as I write this and will be distributed to any person in need. The bags are filled with words of encouragement, food, toiletries, and other necessities.
No one started the paperwork to file to the IRS for non profit status, created a board of directors or initiated a fundraising campaign. Instead, Vicky, Jeff, and a bunch of other concerned citizens organized and went to work.
Later today, a different dedicated group of community members met to discuss the creation of a more inclusive community, specifically supporting the LGBT community. Ideas flowed from the room. When asked who else should be at the table, name after name was announced. In one short and inspiring hour, a movement was underway; a movement driven by passion. It was infectious. I have no doubt that they will be successful with Michelle, Ellen, Nic, and many others leading the way.
In between my last couple of meetings, Kip called. We brainstormed about how he can make an even bigger impact with this year’s FXB Christmas gift drive. We didn’t talk about formalizing the process, but rather, we talked about identifying more partners; people like him that want nothing more than to give back to the community and to feel like they are making a difference…something we all want.
I just got an email from Matt, thanking me for the meeting today. The folks at Stonehill have made volunteering a priority within their organization. They know the stats: People live 7 years longer when actively volunteering in their community. They are hoping to match 500-1,000 people to specific community needs. They are ready to deploy an army of change agents.
So as I’m spending my every waking hour thinking about how RU can support community engagement and inspire volunteerism, today I learned that sometimes the most effective thing you can do is get out of the way. We need to make it easy for people to make a difference.
Maybe it’s as simple as giving people permission to change the world, because I tell you what, we’ve got a community filled with people ready to move mountains.