There was a college student I once knew who was, for the most part, your typical 20-something. She had a full load of university classes, was working two part-time jobs, trying to balance homework and time with friends and keep up with her share of her chores at the apartment she shared with her roommate. She also wanted to be more involved in the local community but with such a busy and constantly changing schedule, she just didn’t have the time to commit to any kind of on-going obligation.
That was me.
I loved living in Portland. It is such a beautiful and diverse city. I really wanted to be more involved in local events and get plugged into a local organization or volunteer group but I just didn’t have the time.
The church I attended while a student at Multnomah, Imago Dei, started what they call the LOVE PORTLAND project. They would organize these big one-day service events where they would send teams of 100 or more people to various parks, schools and neighborhoods… as many as 500 people would participate in a single day! The volunteers would clean, landscape, paint, build… whatever was needed. I thought the project was brilliant because people like me could participate without having to sign up for an on-going commitment.
Multnomah also organizes one day a semester, a “Day of Outreach” when the whole student body divides up into small teams and spreads out across the neighborhood and beyond to volunteer, do yard work for folks in the neighborhood, help out at local organizations, participate in local kid’s clubs… These were days set aside for us to love on our neighbors and city.
Serve the City International is an organization which started 10 years ago in Brussels, Belgium and is now in about 100 cities around the world. It operates a lot like LOVE PORTLAND and Multnomah’s Day of Outreach. It is a bridge between people who want to help and give back to their communities and meaningful opportunities to do so.
I firmly believe there are people in every city, who like myself, would be interested in and really enjoy volunteering somewhere, they just don’t know what’s out there and what local organizations are in need of more volunteers.
That’s where Serve the City comes in. Serve the City events are designed to give people opportunities to serve, to build friendships around serving others, all while having fun and creating a more healthy, equal, just and beautiful community. It also introduces individuals to local non-profits with the hopes that people will get involved and take the initiative to serve even outside of organized Serve the City events.
Everyone in a community benefits when people step up to serve, and all the more so when each person uses the giftings and experiences they have to build up and encourage those around them. Serving is so healthy for communities also because it helps build trust among neighbors and can help reduce racism by giving people from different backgrounds the opportunity to meet folks different then themselves. It helps us to be able to put ourselves in others shoes and see life from a different perspective than our own.
Here is a list of STC’s core values: