Be the Change – Austin, TX

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  This quote by Margaret Mead best captures the spirit of Austin’s Be the Change National Day of Service event.  When we first participated as a community in 2010, we coordinated 1 service project that involved 50 volunteers. The next year we identified 15 new service sites and engaged 500 volunteers, and the year following we doubled the number of service projects and engaged 1,000 volunteers hosting the largest Be the Change event across the country for the last 3 years.

The initial planning of Be the Change in Austin started with a small group of dedicated individuals wanting to simply promote volunteerism especially among Austin’s growing South Asian community.  Be the Change provides an avenue for individuals to get out of their comfort zones, learn about the needs of their local community and identify ways they can make a positive impact through volunteerism and community service.  It also serves as a meaningful way to mobilize the community towards a productive cause that will lead to further civic engagement.

Although rooted in the South Asian community, the Austin planning team and day of service has evolved into an event engaging volunteers from all walks of life regardless of ethnic, religious or cultural background.  Be the Change has also grown into a city-wide event. Since being identified by SAALT as one of the core cities to host Be the Change, the City of Austin has proclaimed Be the Change day in Austin each year. Our efforts have lead to strong partnerships with the University of Texas at Austin’s Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement and GivePulse, a social networking site for volunteers and nonprofit organizations, which manages our service site and volunteer registration.

Although planning a day of service is a big undertaking for a team of volunteers especially for many of us who also hold full-time jobs, the community impact has been immeasurable. Each year we witness the ripple effect of the year before and that’s what motivates us to set our expectations high. We have truly experienced the power a small group of committed people can make in their local community by inspiring a spirit of service which will ultimately change the world.

Sonia Kotecha
Be the Change-Austin Team Coordinator