Todays’ turning point is written by Keith Lee, the Points of Light volunteer of the week. We are highlighting his story for the upcoming Americorps Week. Keith is an Americorps member currently at West Suburban PADS (Maywood, IL) & Chicago Cares. He is a physician in training, dancer and traveler hobbyist.
I have lived in the three largest cities in the United States: New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago and have spent countless summers in the South. Although each city is uniquely diverse in resources, citizens, and geography – the hearts of the American people are filled with compassion to serve one another. It was in my home town of Joliet, Ill., that I learned the importance of community and more importantly community involvement.
My mother was a single mother working hard to support and raise her children. However, there was never a moment were I felt like I was raised only by my mother. The community surrounded my family and helped out where needed with excellent effort and compassionate hearts. This example would make a lasting impression on me causing a contagious servant heart.
Years later while still in high school, I remember riding a bus filled with eager community members to the state capital to join a protest and lobby for change in the school system addressing achievement gaps, resource allocation, and the list rolls on. After rolling 600 miles, long days, and a lot frustration, nothing happened. Yes, I understood and was constantly told that change was gradual, but there was work to be done. So, at the age of 16 I began to tutor at an after school program to elementary and middle school students in the areas of math, science, and reading. I became a peer mentor to youth at a community center and spent a couple days a week playing basketball and talking with the kids. I went to soup kitchens cooked food and cleaned. My community provided clothes to the disadvantaged and computer and technology training to the community at large. I was also a volunteer videographer filming community events and broadcasting on local community television.
This lifestyle of volunteering continued as I lived, traveled, and studied across America. In 2008, I made a personal pledge to consciously volunteer 72 hours a month to my community: local, state, country. Three years later, my pledge became a lifestyle as I serve as an Americorps member at West Suburban PADS in Maywood, Ill. By sharing talents and time unselfishly the community becomes strong and is able to function better. As a result, a student does not struggle in math class, a homeless family is fed and given shelter, a garden is planted, and a computer is repaired. Service unites a community, fills the gap when there’s no budget, and inspires others to serve. Points of Lights embodies community service and a collaboration of government, corporations, and citizens that will no longer stand and watch but take action. I am a point of light.
Find Americorps Week volunteer opportunities to get involved in! Learn about where AmeriCorps can take you by joining our AmeriCorps Works Career Panel webinar hosted by @BenDuda on 3/13: http://bitly.com/xo7TIz