By Kaira Esgate, CEO, America's Service Commissions
It’s been one week since I returned home from the Service Unites conference, and I’m still feeling energized by what I heard and who I met in Atlanta.
Attending Service Unites is always a bit like a homecoming for me. It’s that chance once a year to regroup with colleagues from across the country, celebrate our track record as a team (i.e., the service “family”), hear from some of the greatest minds and players in the field, and rally together for our common cause: service and volunteerism.
This year, I was especially struck by a few key things. My top five takeaways from Service Unites 2018:
The need to connect and support
I’m reminded strongly of the need to continue to connect and support one another. The work we do is so important, but also challenging. Events like Service Unites are critical in helping us recharge and refuel ourselves so that we can continue on our path, both personally and professionally, and to advance our work in this field.
New faces, new perspectives
A movement is only healthy if it brings in new faces and new perspectives to the table year after year. It was exciting and wonderful to see so many new faces in Atlanta who are joining the movement, sharing their experiences and learning from their peers.
The future of nonprofit capacity building
I’m thrilled to see that Points of Light is making a strong commitment to building nonprofit capacity, and that the Service Enterprise Initiative will be central to that strategy. At America’s Service Commissions, we believe that the Service Enterprise model is the way forward and is changing the fundamental way that organizations can meet their missions through harnessing the power of volunteers.
Find your voice
No matter our differences, at the most basic and fundamental level we are all people with a unique and undeniable voice. No two voices are the same. Finding one’s voice and using it when it matters most, such as when we witness injustice or tragedy, is the first and perhaps most critical step to fulfilling our sacred duty to be a citizen of the world. Voice can ignite civic culture. In Atlanta, the young leaders from Parkland, Florida — Jaclyn Corin, Emma Gonzalez, and Alex Wind — reminded us of that firsthand.
Vote with your volunteerism
Too often we don’t talk about the link between volunteerism and advocacy. But the truth is, when we give our time to an issue, we are advocating for its importance in our own lives and that of others. By simply giving our time to the issues we care most about, we are voting with our volunteerism.
It was a great homecoming in Atlanta, and I look forward to seeing you in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2019.
Kaira Esgate is chief executive officer of America’s Service Commissions, the national association representing and promoting the 52 state service commissions across the United States and territories with the mission to lead and elevate the state service network. State service commissions are governor-appointed public agencies or nonprofit organizations made up of more than 1,000 commissioners, private citizens leading the nation’s service movement and administering 80 percent of the federal AmeriCorps funds to address pressing community needs. Learn more at statecommissions.org.