On Saturday, October 4, 2008- over 2,000 volunteers from around the country participated in SAALT’s annual day of service, Be the Change. As the National Be the Change Coordinator, it was exciting to see many individuals from cities and campuses around the country involved in this great cause- volunteers from over 40 cities and campuses participated nationwide! Atlanta, Boston, Bay Area, Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia, University of Central Florida, Texas A&M University- College Station and more joined in on this effort!
For the past 5 months, individuals around the country volunteered their time to plan and implement this event in their city or campus. These individuals are a testament to the change occurring in the country and their role in Be the Change truly exemplified Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of ‘be the change you wish to see in the world”. Of course, we can’t forget the wonderful volunteers who came out on a Saturday morning because of their belief in the importance of making a difference and changing their community.
This year, Be the Change volunteers participated in activities such as revitalizing local parks in East Brunswick, New Jersey; packaging books for prisoners in Washington, DC; restoring the bay in San Francisco; and working with mentally and physically disabled children in New York and much more.
I would like to challenge everyone to let Be the Change be the first step. I challenge you to let this not be a day of service but a life of service- whether it be at your campus or university, in your workplace, with your friends or family, by volunteering or by creating your own organization- I challenge all of you to carry on this principle of being the change wherever you go and in whatever you do. I hope to see you ‘being the change’ for many years to come!
-Ramya Punnoose, National Coordinator of Be the Change ’08
SAALT is gearing up for Be the Change 2008 and we wanted to thank all of our planning teams and local volunteers who have worked so hard over the past few months to plan for this national day of service! Be the Change, formerly known as the National Gandhi Day of Service, is coordinated by SAALT along with volunteers around the country. This year, we are excited that the event will be held in over 60 cities and campuses! You can find a full list of the cities and campuses here.This year’s theme for Be the Change is “Solidarity in Service” and we want to encourage all of our volunteers to keep this theme in mind when they are volunteering this year. This theme reflects the way community service can build coalitions, strengthen relationships, and bring about solidarity among people of different backgrounds.
Examples of service sites this year include:
Books to Prisons: Volunteers will be reading letters from prisoners, selecting books that match their request, and packaging the books to send the prisoners (Washington DC)
Hands on Atlanta Volunteers will be building wheelchair ramps, mentoring individuals in computer skills, and more. (Atlanta)
Ronald McDonald House: Volunteers will prepare a meal for, and serve families whose children are seriously ill and receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. (San Francisco)
Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN): Volunteers will be conducting recreational activities for kids in the program who have are mentally or physically challenged. (New York City)
Boston Healthcare for the Homeless: Volunteers will be
working with patients by leading activities like games, crafts, entertainment, etc.These are just a mere few service sites that Be the Change volunteers will be participating in this year. Stay tuned for an update about how Be the Change went and how you can continue your community involvement.
Tonight, “conversations” (ie. gatherings of people that meet to share stories) are being held in communities across the country. SAALT is excited to be participating in one such conversation being held in Washington, DC. The ultimate goal of A Night of 1,000 Conversations is to get people talking about how government policies affect the everyday lives of Americans. The focus of the conversation tonight (at the All Souls Church, Unitarian near the Columbia Heights metro, for those of you in the DC area) is sharing the experiences of different immigrant communities around policies and issues like backlogs in the citizenship and naturalization process; inhumane detention and deportation procedures; home and workplace raids and more. SAALT is working with All Souls Unitarian Social Justice Ministries, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, CASA de Maryland, Virginia New Majority and Rights Working Group to organize this conversation and we welcome anyone in the Washington, DC area to attend. The event goes from 6:30pm — 9:00pm and begins with iftar/dinner and includes a panel discussion with experts and affected community members followed by small group discussions. One of the featured panelists is journalist Laila Al-Arian, the author of Collateral Damage, who will discuss the detention of her father, Sami Al-Arian. If you would like to attend this event, please join us! The iftar and remarks will begin promptly at 6:30pm.
Map of location Flyer for Night of 1,000 ConversationsTo learn more about Night of 1,000 Conversations, visit www.nightof1,000conversations.org
. (This website also lists conversations happening in other locations around the country.)