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Insights / January 16, 2017

What are you doing?

By Abby Breyer

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?'” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Software for Good was founded on the belief that a career can be both meaningful and sustainable—that you can use your day job to make a positive impact on people and the world around you while still earning a livable wage.

Frankly, it would be easy to coast on the warm and fuzzy feelings we get from the work we do during the day. But our team? We’re organizers, activists, leaders, and makers. We’re at our best when we’re doing.

Which leads us to today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Today is a national day of service and a holiday for many, including our team. We give this day to our employees so they can focus on service to others in the ways that matter most to them, separate from our work together at Software for Good. So, in the spirit of MLK Day, here are a few personal stories of how, and why, we serve.

Kyle | Making a positive impact through music.
As an active member of the music community in the Twin Cities, I like to use the stage as a platform to empower social change by curating inclusive bills and calling attention to important issues. Some of my favorite memories as a musician have been playing benefits for organizations like Meals on Wheels Minneapolis or People Serving People. Sometimes I get lucky and all of my interests intersect; recently, I designed a poster for one of our shows, with all proceeds going to Ka Joog, a local organization dedicated to providing culturally specific programs and services to Somali youth and their families.

I think art of all kinds should be accessible and inclusive to as many people as possible. As we collectively face our future, creative expression will become not only a means to give back to the community, but a way to bring communities together in safety and solidarity, as well.

Peter | Helping empower the next generation of leaders.
I volunteer on the Leadership Committee with Minneapolis Boy Scouts Troop 1. We meet nearly every Monday evening, and what I love about the Scouts—and why I put my time there—is that they are in the business of training the next generation of leaders. The organization is designed to be scout-led, so the kids are presented opportunity after opportunity to develop their leadership skills: they learn how to organize, how to lead, how to make things happen. Of course the outdoor skills are fun and important, too, but learning the skill of leadership is invaluable.

Jared | Taking a hands-on role in animal rescue.
Thousands of animals wind up in shelters that don’t have room for them. Unfortunately, euthanasia is a far too common solution to this problem. One person can rescue a dog, or two, or three, but you can’t save them all. I’ve found a way to do more than that. For the last year, I have fostered dogs through Secondhand Hounds. Through fostering and supporting SHH, I directly involve myself in saving many animals and joining them with loving families. It’s not always easy to give them up, but being involved in their adoption and knowing there will always be another one to help is motivating.

Abby | Enthusiastic about education.
Fun fact: Growing up, I wanted to be a teacher. Still kind of do, actually. So it comes as no surprise that a significant chunk of my volunteer time is spent working in our elementary school—I serve on the PTA board, chair the yearbook committee, and volunteer for what my family would argue are too many classroom and school activities throughout the year. Right now our schools and educators are strapped for time, resources, and money; yet their work is critical to the success of our children and communities. So I show up. And I work alongside them in whatever way I can, because I’ve seen first hand what a small group of committed parents can do to strengthen our schools. Plus kids are awesome! It’s inspiring to see their growing minds at work.

Liz | Turning passion into action.
I’m a current volunteer with the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, working to support and protect our communities and the planet through climate change awareness and advocacy. Throughout the year I also enjoy volunteering with several organizations, most notably Open Arms, which is growing food and creating meals for people with life-threatening illnesses; Special Olympics, which is helping to create a supportive and inclusive community where every single person is accepted and welcomed regardless of ability or disability; and Technovation, which helps inspire girls in their pursuit of STEM. I love helping people using the skills that I have as a leader, technologist, gardener, and baker/chef. It’s my life passion to help people as much I can, and I find it incredibly fulfilling to use my personal superpowers for good.

These are a few of the things we’re doing. What about you? Today we challenge you to think about the people, organizations, and causes that are dear to your heart, and how you can use your time and talents to serve them. 

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to 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 thermal dynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.” – From The Drum Major Instinct sermon by Martin Luther King Jr.