I agree with Michael Jacoby Brown (Letters, Feb. 9) that service learning should be a reflective process; however, I disagree with the notion that volunteerism is merely an act of self improvement. Every day, in my work at LIFT, an anti-poverty non-profit, I am inspired by our hundreds of volunteers who step beyond their campuses to become integral to a broader and diverse Greater Boston community. Their service is a selfless act that breaks down stereotypes, fosters a belief in one community, and builds reciprocity through which volunteers and LIFT clients learn from one another.
Volunteers become more active thinkers about the policies that prevent the people they serve from getting ahead. Although sources quoted in the Feb. 1 article “Volunteering spirit catches fire,’’ to which Brown was responding, state that young people choose to make an immediate impact rather than larger institutional ones, I believe young people are serious about using service to change the future of their generation.
Programs such as LIFT, City Year, and Health Leads are using service to change the way our communities approach poverty, education, and health care, and thousands of their alumni have gone on to make a priority of these issues in their personal and professional lives, from the votes they have cast to the careers they have pursued. We have the roots of volunteering to thank for that.
Maicharia Weir Lytle
Executive Director, LIFT-Boston
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