by Katie Grills, Community Relations VISTA
I grew up in Memphis, TN. Memphis has the distinction of being mentioned more than any other city in the world in song — that’s over 1,000 songs and counting. People feel a lot of things about my beautiful, complicated home town and, in the Southern tradition, they like to talk and sing about it. That includes me, of course.
Growing up in Memphis affected me in countless ways, from my diet to the instinctual sense of place that I create when I write stories. While my drawl might fade over time and I might lose my affinity for Memphis style barbecue, I will never, ever lose the lessons I learned there about the importance of being a caring, mindful person.
Memphis taught me that serving others is paramount to living a full life. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death in Memphis caused decades of angst that are still apparent all over the city, but so much light has come from his life. Dr. King and his movement left a legacy of empowerment and compassion that you can sense everywhere in the city, as well as the nation. If I ever write a coming of age novel the principles that Dr. King live will likely find their way into it. His words were woven into so many facets of my scholastic and human education that they hold a permanent place in my mind and heart.
These principles guided me towards a vocation-driven life of service, and those motivations led me to the AmeriCorps program over a year ago. AmeriCorps members celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a “Day On.” The TAP AmeriCorps VISTA members will be assisting Communities in Schools (CIS) with preparations for the 3M Half Marathon and Relay, a race that has designated CIS as the primary beneficiary.
I want to challenge you to find the chance to be help in your community this weekend and engage in a “Day On.” You’ll enrich the life of someone else, as well as your own. For more information on projects across the Austin area, visit Hands On Central Texas and sign up for a project today.