On the third Monday in January, I will join with other citizens around our great nation in celebrating the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.
I grew up in the 1960s and spent part of my childhood living in Memphis, Tennessee, where Dr. King died after being fatally shot while standing on the balcony outside of his room at the Lorraine Motel. He was only 39 years old. I was horrified at the violence of such a tragic, senseless and unjust act toward such a peaceful man.
Even as a young boy, I remember watching Dr. King on television. What resonated with me most was his tremendous passion and vision. He was a man who moved people with his words and inspired them with his actions.
One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King remains, “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Throughout my career, I’ve felt a strong call to serve. That’s what led me to get out of hospital administration and pursue my dream of working in hospice.
Many of us at Solari Hospice Care feel like we have been called to serve the terminally ill. We want to assure that patients don’t suffer at the end of their lives, but are able to die with dignity, without pain and within an environment of comfort and love. And, we want to serve the families and caregivers who are left behind, helping them cope with their grief and sadness.
It takes a special kind of person and “heart full of grace” – as Dr. King so eloquently puts it – to help guide patients along their final leg of life’s journey, enabling them reap as much joy and fulfillment as they can in their precious remaining days. Each person brings a unique set of strengths and talents to our hospice team – from our skilled nurses and doctors to our resourceful social workers to our compassionate bereavement counselors to our dedicated volunteers – making sure that our patients’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs are fully addressed.
What area of service speaks to your heart? What are your unique gifts? How can you be of assistance to your neighbors and communities? How can you brighten someone’s day?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once asked, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”
Whether it’s volunteering to help hospice patients, working at a food bank, cleaning up a local park or donating clothes to a shelter, I encourage you to honor Dr. King’s memory on January 21 by finding a way to serve. I think he’d enjoy seeing that from his view on the mountaintop.