January 14, 2021: From Pain to Hope Through Service
By Stefanie Vestal

The events of the past week in Washington, DC have left me in a great deal of pain, as I’m sure they did for many of you.  I spent a lot of time processing my own emotions and as a middle school history teacher I also spent time talking with my students and supporting them processing their own feelings and concerns. I have been encouraged by their thought-provoking questions and comments, and their critical thinking skills and maturity give me hope for the future.

As easy as it is to be distraught and agonize over the events of the past week, I am also choosing to look ahead. I am especially looking forward to celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service this weekend. MLK Day has always had a special place in my heart as I have performed community service on this day for as long as I can remember. With each project I have been a part of I am reminded of the Bible verse from Peter 4:10: "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms." I think of how I have been called to serve--growing up in church and Girls Scouts, as an adult through City Year, as a teacher and coach, and at All Souls. Over the past 15 years MLK Day has had an increased level of importance in my life because of my work with City Year. For many years I planned and led hundreds of volunteers in service projects. Since I started teaching I have participated as a volunteer in various projects throughout each MLK Weekend, oftentimes traveling to City Year sites across the country. These weekends have served as a reunion for friends I have made through City Year across the years and country, while allowing us to make lasting impacts on communities. We have performed service in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Dallas, Houston, Orlando, and Washington, DC.

This year there are many ways you can get involved virtually with MLK Day and honor not only Dr. King, but the ideas and principles he and all those who did and continue to fight for civil rights stood for. Because it also coincides with Inauguration, President-Elect Biden and Vice-President-Elect Harris have encouraged all Americans to participate in a National Day of Service. You can find details here:https://bideninaugural.org/day-of-service/ and you can check ServeDC for local and ongoing opportunities to serve: https://servedc.galaxydigital.com/. However you decide to serve this weekend remember to use your gifts in any way you can to serve those around you as a faithful steward of God.
Last Published: February 27, 2021 7:02 PM
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