“In our call as Christians, as Catholics, as people, we should be able to help one another without being asked to do it,” says Sister Connie Kelly, a Dominican Sister of Hope.
She’s not all talk. Sister Connie was the Campus Minister and Director of Service at Mount Saint Michael Academy in the Bronx from 2010 to 2014, where she became well-versed in organizing service projects and fundraisers. She also visited Central America on direct-service trips, and she gave service for a week in New Orleans with her (blood) sister and Dominican Sister of Hope Margaret Anderson, OP.
According to Sister Connie, service is important for her and for everyone not only because it’s a good use of time and spiritually fruitful, but because it’s “the right thing to do.”
“That’s the way we should be for one another,” Sister Connie says. “Our society teaches us differently.”
Really, it doesn’t matter how old you are, where you are, or how you felt about those youth service-mission projects way back when. Here are five ways you can start doing good today.
1. Recognize when people need help, and offer it.
Service doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out project. “If you see someone walking down the street and you see them struggling with their bags get your backside down there and help the person!” Sister Connie says. Little acts of kindness help to make the world a better place, and are much appreciated.
2. Forget about being cool.
“I think it’s important that we’re there for one another, no matter what,” Sister Connie says. Giving a few hours at a car wash fundraiser or a local food pantry may not be the trendiest way to spend your Saturday afternoon, but it’s certainly better than brunch.
3. Find an opportunity that interests you.
Maybe environmental protection inspires you to take action; maybe it’s helping children. Whatever cause you’re passionate about, there’s a way to help within it. Check out volunteerguide.org, or doinggoodtogether.org for starters.
4. Can’t find something that you love? Start it.
If you don’t see an opportunity to serve as you’d like in your area, why not start one? Your project can be as simple as a fundraiser or an awareness campaign to support a larger organization. If you’re interested in direct service but can’t find a local group, social networking sites like meetup.com or even Linkedin are great ways to get people together based on common interests. Put your idea out there and gauge interest; it never hurts to try!
5. Think about it afterward.
Service is great, but it becomes even more powerful when you take time to think about what it meant to you. “I love to ask kids especially to reflect because I want them to understand why they’re doing something,” Sister Connie says. “Why is it important to help somebody? Did you get anything out of it? And a lot of them will say, ‘I did this because I had to, but when she smiled at me, that made my day.’ It’s really powerful!” The who/what/when/where/why/how questions (as well as the basic “how did that feel for you?”) are great questions to prompt deeper reflection, and to realize that your service was well worth it, after all.