On this MLK National Day of Service I want to share something. One of Dr. King’s lesser known speeches called The Drum Major Instinct in one in which he talks about how “anybody can be great because anybody can serve.” It’s one of my favorites because it’s about greatness and yet how ultimately we find that quality when we help others.
In this speech, Dr King says,
“Everybody can be great, because everybody 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. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity 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. And you can be that servant.”
Back in 2021, on MLK Day I wanted to do something. I wanted to get my hands dirty and dig into something that was akin to going to church, but not church exactly. I wanted to worship with like-minded people and help out in some small way. All my other days are spoken for and Sunday was often treated like prep work for Monday, so I wanted to change that and in the process do some good. I wanted to serve something, somehow, somewhere. I heard the call and I had been hearing it for sometime, but I dismissed it because I figured I was already doing what I could. I worked hard and I did extra things at school so I was covered.
But was I? Something was missing. I felt like I wanted to be doing more of something else but I wasn’t sure what that meant. A friend of mine volunteered for Make A Wish Foundation but that was a long time ago and that wasn’t quite the right fit. Then another friend said I should just donate money to a cause or buy more stuff for school. Again, great but like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, that wasn’t the right fit.
As is often the way I start sentences, I was out riding my bike and I saw a shop. It said BIKE SHOP and it was in the Burgerville Headquarters on Main Street. I was on the other side of the street, checked my rear view and swerved over and went inside. What is this? How is this here and I didn’t know? I walked around and found a hat, and some spoke reflectors and then at the counter they had a sign up sheet for volunteers.
Why, yes, this is it! On this day, or weekend, in 2021 I started to volunteer at a nonprofit called Bike Clark County. On the first day, I knew this was it. This was my place. Bike Clark County is my Sunday Service and when I ride my bike 3 miles to the shop every Sunday the church bells chime at the Catholic Church and roll in and get ready to do my thing. My heart always expands when I hear the bells. Something opens up inside my heart and I feel like I’m complete. There’s Paul, Ryan, Benjamin and Eisa. We are the Sunday crew. Sometimes Ed comes in and he volunteers by working on bikes whereas I’m usually arranging and rearranging and talking with customers. I help with displays and sorting and greeting one and all. Sometimes I put air in tires, sometimes I share my commuting opinions, sometimes I decorate, I greet pups and people alike. I get to go through the donated items and see what we can rescue from the landfill. I love it when Ryan gives me bike bits to organize. I love it all. The time goes by in the blink of an eye and we say our good-byes until next Sunday.
Volunteering means that you “freely offer to do something” and let’s be honest, I’m not completing college applications or trying to prove anything. I heard the call for help and I am happy I answered it and thrilled that I’m starting my third year. I look forward to a time when I can fix someone’s flat quickly and confidently. I am greedy for a time when I can find things with the swiftness and ease of finding a book in the library. I can’t wait to have a suggestion that people go, “Yeah, that!” But it’s also okay if I just do what I’m doing because it’s helping them.
A commitment to volunteering is not easy. When you’re volunteering you have to consider that you’re giving up time doing one thing to do another. I wasn’t sure if I could keep it up because maybe the work week would be too much and I’d want time to rest on Sunday or maybe they wouldn’t like me (naw, that’s not it), or maybe I just wouldn’t be good at it. Almost instantly I started to do their social media posts on Instagram and Facebook. I would like to do more mechanical things, but right now I’m happy to be there and happy to serve in my tiny way.
Plus, it’s bikes and people and occasionally dogs and it’s always amazing! Volunteering intentionally like this is newish to me. What is your experience? I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading my blog post. If you found some value to it, please give it a like and then get out there and ride.