Ismael Ahmed

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Archive for December, 2009

Be Great: Serve vulnerable citizens in your community

Posted by Iahmed on December 21, 2009

I truly love the holiday season. Like everyone else, it’s great to be with family and friends, but more than that, I love the sense of community and mission that shines in each of us during this period.

The Christmas season reminds us, pulls at our emotions and urges us to help each other. Our sense of brotherhood and sisterhood is revived. Courtesies are on display and smiles are quickly generated and sustained. Neighbors are helping neighbors; residents aiding their respective communities by helping those in need. It is this sense of service I love so much during the holiday season.

As you already know, Michigan has suffered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In spite of the efforts of many in government and in private nonprofits we hear new stories and may know neighbors who are unemployed, losing their homes and having a tough time making ends meet.

Currently, there are over two million people in poverty in our state and nearly 500,000 of them are children. This year the Michigan Department of Human Services assisted 2.2 million people and provided welfare, food, medical and child day care assistance, in spite of budget cuts and without any growth in staffing levels.

Government, churches and nonprofits are stretched thin in meeting the ever-increasing need. Still, they seek partnerships and collaborations to make life better for the least of these in our communities.

Nevertheless, I believe in each of our hearts there is a capacity and desire to help others. To do this may or may not take money and may or may not take much time. Helping could be purchasing a toy for a child in need, contributing food to a food bank or soup kitchen, providing clothes for kids in foster care, mentoring a youth, knitting sweaters for seniors, becoming a foster or adoptive parent, volunteering at a domestic violence shelter or donating money to someone who has lost his or her home. There are many ways to help.

Enhancing the life of a person in your community is the right thing to do. It does not require a holiday season, a sermon, television cameras or a “guilt trip.” Rather, it represents and reflects the greatness of your heart and the consistency of your character in meeting and serving the lives of those in need.

“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve,” said famed civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

King reminds us that there are no barriers to serve. Service is who you are and what you do. It is not limited by your age, educational attainment, grammar, wealth or intelligence. Service exposes and defines your heart and character.

During this holiday season and throughout the New Year, I invite you to serve in meeting the needs of vulnerable children, adults and families in your community.

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