What Cause Can You Support this Summer?

Summer is an opportunity for long days, fun in the sun and for many at some point or another, rest and relaxation. It can also be a wonderful time to spend on behalf of a cause or a charity that you value. According to tolerance.com, only 1 in 10 K-12 students participate in community service. If you are a parent, you can ask your kids what they most care about and work with them toward something rewarding like building a home for Habitat for Humanity or working at the local homeless shelter.

Last year at this time, my high school classmates, Marcie and Jordan, were working hard to reach out to many classmates on behalf of our 30th reunion. The time they put in allowed them to reach many people who had never attended a reunion and others who really wanted to get involved. No matter what is important to you, summer is a time when you can join family, friends or simply identify something on your own that means something to you so that you can make a difference.

This weekend, my husband and  friend joined almost 3,000 people who rode 150 to 175 miles to find a cure for MS. My friend, Charlotte Robinson, has MS and my dear friend Sarah’s Mom, Sandy, has MS. Some of the most inspiring people we saw this weekend were people with MS.  If they couldn’t ride, they volunteered. The nice thing about volunteer work, is that it can really be something that matches your strengths, abilities and interests.  Here are all of the people who made a difference in this event this weekend beyond the cyclists who raised money and rode:

1)      Citizen volunteers.  There were as many volunteers as there were cyclyists.   When the heat got up to the high nineties the second day, these people were there to provide aid in every way from the motorcyclists on the gold wings to the neighbors who came out with their signs and cowbells.

2)      Corporate volunteers.   Volunteers who work Fed Ex, Johns Manville, Lockhead Martin and many other companies were working this weekend as part of companies who support this cause. So, these employees gave up their weekends to be able to sag overheated riders and their bikes, provide aid and shuttle materials up and down the course. Also there were many companies who sponsored teams and aid stations along the way. This commitment created an incredible team spirit.

3)      Service Organizations.   Several volunteers from organized service organizations like the Optimists Club sponsored meals and aid stations.   Many of these people took the time to put statistics about MS inside and outside of the porta-potties and decorated their areas with different themes to keep the riders going.

4)       Police, city, fire and emergency personnel. From the city workers who set up all of the rest stops, to the police who kept everyone safe at intersections to EMT staff who handled medical emergencies to the fire house which provided us all with a squirt of their fire hose, we appreciated every effort of these dedicated city employees.

Outside of these functions which were most obvious as a rider, there are likely countless other ways people contributed their time like setting up some of the teams’ websites, organizing training rides, and/or canvassing for donations. This is only one of millions of causes out there. If you don’t have something you care deeply about yet this summer, take time this week as we prepare for July 4th and the celebration of our independence to consider what you want to fight for to contribute your time and possibly some of your resources to a needy cause. Let us know the causes you care most about, what you might do on behalf of it or them and whether or not you are able to involve your family or children in ways that teach teamwork, leadership and the most meaningful kind of experiences available to us all.

Did you know that summer is the most violent time of the year in urban areas? Participating in summer service programs is a great way to keep kids off the streets, off of drugs and away from gangs. More than a million high school students participate in service learning annually when only about 30,000 students participate in student-led community service programs over spring and summer break.  Students who have participated in summer service experienced increased global awareness, better grades, increased self-confidence, developed skills they still use years later, became more responsible and were better able to define future goals.

What are you and yours doing to support a cause this summer?

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