“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Day has become known as a day of service—“a day on, not a day off.” The call to advance King’s unrelenting advocacy for equality and justice reminds so many of us that we best honor his legacy through service to our communities.
On this day, millions volunteer because they are inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of true community—a place where all people’s well-being is considered. We may not think of volunteering or serving others as contributing to public safety, but that is exactly what it is.
Public safety is about understanding the causes and effects of poverty, social injustice, and the mental and behavioral health challenges that result from those often generations-long conditions. It is never just a law enforcement issue. If we do not take responsibility for that broader understanding of public safety, we will not see sustainable change. When you volunteer, you are part of the work to improve public safety, and our communities at large, with every individual you encounter.
At Catholic Charities, our agency-wide substance use treatment initiative is part of our strategy to help all of our clients who may come to us with one particular need, but have substance use disorders that complicate that need. Our workforce development efforts help unemployed and underemployed individuals remove the barriers to getting hired and finding meaningful work that leads to a self-sufficient path.
When someone improves his or her life in these ways, they become safer, healthier people contributing to safer, healthier communities. That kind of community-building is what leads to greater public safety.
Together, we are a movement. Let’s be conscious of that, and let’s remember to honor the spirit of service not just on Martin Luther King Day, but every day – and encourage our friends and family to do the same.
P.S. — You can volunteer with us, in whatever way you choose, on Martin Luther King Day and all year long. Our 10,000 volunteers are incredibly important to our mission and our movement, and we are grateful for them every day!