Everyone can be great – you only need a heart full of grace. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It was a long skinny room off the kitchen. Our “storage” room. Sometimes it would be so packed we could barely walk into it. The room housed our dryer, Christmas decorations, and all kinds of junk that my dad would never throw away. For a family of six, there was a lot of junk!

We didn’t have much extra money, and brand-new clothes didn’t come often.   We were lucky that our large extended family would pass along their hand-me-downs to us. When we outgrew those, my mom would fill up large bags and put them in the storage room. There among the junk and Christmas decorations, the bags would wait.

Our family didn’t have much, but some people had even less.  Ira Mae was larger than life. We loved it when she would stop by our house. Her hugs were notorious, and her laugh was infectious. Ira Mae would come for a visit and pick up the bags that lingered in the storage room. The hand-me-downs of the hand-me-downs.

As I reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. day and his life that exemplified a commitment to service, I think about one speech in particular.  In it he said, Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others? Doing being the key word here.

We must do something if we want to have an impact. I think about Ira Mae’s visits to our house. About how those bags of clothes were needed for her family. Our doing was the act of giving to her out of the little that we had. And it made a real difference to her family.  Her doing was bringing her infectious joy to our house. And that made a real difference to my family.

How will you honor Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy? MLK Day is a day set aside for service, a day for us to come together. To act; to empower; to build bridges; and to strengthen communities. To serve others without expecting anything in return. I think his life challenges us to take action and lift up our neighbors and communities.

Dr. King believed in promoting and celebrating every person. He was an advocate for understanding, service, and love. He gave us a definition of greatness. He knew anyone could be great. He knew greatness doesn’t require travel, public speaking, money, or fame. We all bring different gifts and talents. Whatever yours may be, cultivate them and find ways you can use them to be of service to others.

Wherever we are in life, it’s important to note there’s always someone out there who would benefit from help. Having compassion for others makes serving them much more meaningful.  Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that anyone can be great if they are willing to give. Even if all you have to give are bags full of hand-me-downs.

What will you do for others? Not just today, but every day?


Wendy Berenson

Wendy Berenson

Wendy brings over 20 years of expertise in training and development, facilitation, and Human Resources to the InnerWill team and the clients we serve. She has a passion for helping leaders develop a culture of engaging employee experiences and has a unique knack for identifying the strengths of others and helping them reach their highest potential.

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