It’s Never too Early – or too Late – to Start Volunteering!
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It’s Never too Early – or too Late – to Start Volunteering!

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Jason Parry and his son paint the blacktop at a local school during 2016's Emerging Leaders Day of Action

May 17, 2018

Written by Jason Parry, member of United Way’s Emerging Leader donor network

This summer, our family will embark on the fifth year of what has become a somewhat ridiculous tradition.

Our summers in Milwaukee go by way too quickly, so we look to squeeze every little bit out of them.

Each spring, we create an ambitious list of 101 things we want to do during the summer. From a trip to Miller Park or a visit to see family to riding the Zippin’ Pippin or catching our first rodeo (went out of state for this one), it’s a fun family activity that provides more than enough options when we are looking for something to break up the summer routine.

In 2016, we added a new activity to our list: complete a family volunteer project.

Finding a volunteer project for an eight- and 11-year old was no easy task until we learned about United Way’s Day of Action.

On June 21 each year, thousands of people from across the globe come together to make an impact on their local communities. Day of Action is a chance for volunteers – young and not so young – to work together to help make our city an even better place.

On June 21, 2016, my wife, our two boys and I joined more than 100 volunteers at the COA Youth & Family Centers’ Goldin Center in Milwaukee. Collectively, we installed a Born Learning Trail, helped with neighborhood clean up, repainted portions of the playground and packed snack kits for young children at COA. Our family took advantage of a beautiful Milwaukee day by grabbing a paint brush to help freshen up portions of the playground. Our boys still talk about that project today.

There are countless quotes that speak to the impact of volunteering, but one from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. continues to resonate: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’”

On June 21, we painted. We painted because it felt like it mattered. For two boys that love nothing more than finding a new playground to explore, adding a fresh coat of paint and an extra layer of excitement to the playground at the Goldin Center meant a lot. That afternoon, we made a difference.

On Day of Action 2017, our family helped assemble more than 1,200 parent engagement kits alongside 50 other volunteers at Lincoln Avenue Elementary School.  It’s kind of funny how easily a new experience can develop into a tradition.

We are ahead of schedule this year. Despite four years under our belt, creating our list of “101 things to do” remains a daunting task but one that we’ve already started to chip away at this spring. Volunteering at Day of Action is already on the list. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing yet, but I know we’ll be at Longfellow Elementary School on June 21, 2018 working alongside the United Way and countless volunteers in our city. Together, we Live United.

Whether it’s the 101st item or the only item on your summer list, I’d like to invite you to join our family on June 21, 2018. Learn more and register for Day of Action.

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