In a 1957 sermon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., challenged the congregation, asking: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ’What are you doing for others?’ ”
Throughout his lifetime, Dr. King was passionately committed to community and service. On January 21st, USDA Rural Development is proud to join with Americans from all walks of life to honor Dr. King’s legacy through a National Day of Service. The Day of Service — a “day on, not a day off” — is part of United We Serve, President Obama’s national call to service initiative.
At USDA Rural Development, “doing for others” is one of our core rural values, and we encourage everyone in our organization to practice Dr. King’s principals of community, volunteerism and service not just on the Day of Service but throughout the year. In Tennessee, the “Volunteer State,” USDA Rural Development employees in the State Office in Nashville helped the hungry over the past year by donating more than 3,800 pounds of food through the USDA Feds Feed Families food drive to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. State Office employees also helped the food bank, which provides food to about 600,000 people across 46 counties each year, to sort food items for easier distribution.
Tennessee State Office employees also visited the Family Life Center in Nashville, Tenn., to serve lunch for the approximately 100 women and children in residence. This rescue mission helps homeless, abused or chemically dependent women, and their children, recover and acquire the life skills they need to regain their independence. During the holiday season, State Office employees participated in the Salvation Army’s “Angel Tree” program, distributing Christmas gifts to underprivileged individuals and families.
Mike Boyle works as an appraiser for USDA Rural Development in Tipton, Iowa. In 2012, he volunteered more than 1,600 hours of personal time for a variety of causes in his local community. Overall, the service projects in which he participated helped about 2,500 people and raised almost $20,000 through charitable donations. For example, Boyle volunteered at the Tipton/Hardacre Community Garden, where almost 15,000 pounds of produce was grown and donated to area food pantries, senior centers and others in need. He also helped at many events organized by the Lions, such as collection drives and food stands, and supported Cedar County’s nonprofit historical society.
At USDA Rural Development, our everyday jobs involve serving the public through loans and grants that put roofs over peoples’ heads, keep the lights on in rural communities, and more. Our hard-working employees have taken this public service mission to heart, and it shows through their willingness to devote many hours of personal time to help their neighbors in times of need. As President Obama’s second Inauguration Day kick-offs with the 2013 National Day of Service, USDA Rural Development employees nationwide will continue to honor Dr. King’s call for community and service.
To learn more about how you can join in the National Day of Service, click here.