Change Notes: Every Day I Serve

Sep 11, 2012

Change Notes


Last year, on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Matt Segneri rose before dawn to help plant 3,000 flags in Boston honoring those lost. He joined hundreds of other volunteers from Points of Light's HandsOn Network affiliate Boston Cares. The event was held in total silence.

"It was a powerful shared experience on a sorrowful but inspiring day," he writes in a guest blog posted yesterday on Points of Light's website. "And it provided the spark that would change the next year of my life."

Just a few months later, on New Year's Day, Matt, a 31-year-old who leads civic and social innovation projects at Bennett Midland, decided to devote at least an hour every day to service. As he writes,

"I've created fun quizzes for classrooms and pushed my mentee to chart a new career path. I've created blankets for families in need and advised executive directors on organizational strategy. Heeding the wisdom of E.B. White, I've gotten up every morning 'determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time.'

And, for the last eight-plus months, I've lived up to my goal. With the demands of the day, it's not always easy. But sacrifice is part of the point. One night, I couldn't complete my service until 4 a.m. That was the night after we welcomed our beautiful daughter, Riley, into the world.

This project – which I've taken to calling Every Day I Serve – has been a deeply personal one. Until now, I've kept it to myself and those close to me. But, today is a day to pause and reflect – not just on what we lost but on how we came together and how we can continue to unite through service."

Yesterday, on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Points of Light paused and reflected, too,
then honored the victims and the heroes of that day with service projects to improve disaster preparedness and support veterans around the country. A few examples:

  • HandsOn South Alabama mobilized more than 3,500 individuals – including first responders, veterans and the business community – to support those who protect us in times of emergency and learn the best ways to help the community prepare for a disaster
  • Volunteer Arlington in Virginia canvassed door-to-door to share preparedness tools including a mobile app
  • GenerationOn, Points of Light's youth service enterprise, worked with My Good Deed, Mission Continues and Volunteers of America to build hygiene kits and write cards to active duty military deployed oversees

As Matt writes, "The beauty of service is that ordinary people, in ordinary pursuits, can make an extraordinary difference. I am often reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words: 'Everyone can be great because anybody can serve.'"

I'm so moved by Matt's example and by the knowledge that he is joined by so many others who put their time where their hearts are. Eleven years ago, on this day, Americans stood united and responded with resiliency and commitment. Tell us what you did yesterday to remember and serve. And more important, tell us what you plan to do tomorrow.

In service,  

Michelle Nunn

CEO, Points of Light