by Kevin Ludwig
Empower Sioux Falls Program Manager
The time has come.
Over the next 60 days, hundreds of people will unite to serve this great city we call home by joining forces to complete approximately 100 service projects for local nonprofit ministries and organizations as a part of an event called Serve Sioux Falls.
On paper the concept of Serve Sioux Falls sounds easy enough. Find some nonprofit organizations, ask them for service project ideas and then find people to do the projects. This type of effort has been done successfully in large metropolitan areas such as Portland and Phoenix. But can it be done in a community the size of Sioux Falls?
The Serve Sioux Falls Leadership Team, comprised of representatives from the three partnering organizations – LifeLight Global, Empower Sioux Falls and Volunteers of America, Dakotas – believed it was possible. However, we were unsure as to how Serve Sioux Falls would be received.
As a member of the Serve Sioux Falls Leadership Team I’ve had the good fortune of getting a behind the scenes look at the various aspects of Serve Sioux Falls. I met with numerous nonprofit leaders. A majority of them were taken aback that we were trying something like this. At the same time they were overjoyed at the possible impact that these service projects could have on the way they operate and the way they help people who are in need.
Nonprofit organizations were asked to come up with projects that consisted of “meaningful service.” This means that the project needed to be meaningful to the nonprofit but also meaningful to the volunteers completing the project.
The response was amazing. I heard so many heartwarming stories about how beneficial these projects will be and how the timing is perfect. Needless to say we quickly amassed over 100 projects, or serving opportunities of 2-4 hours in length.
The next uncertainty was how the community would respond. Again, we were blown away. It didn’t take long for teams to start signing up for projects. In an amazing demonstration of support, over 40 teams signed up for projects during our 72-hour challenge window. During that challenge a generous donor offered to pay for the cost of every project that was taken during those three days.
So far, 90 teams have signed up to serve. Among that group, 26 churches, as well as 21 businesses and organizations are represented. Not only are businesses supplying workers for some specialized projects, they are donating the labor costs and even some supplies.
In talking to some volunteer team leaders, an encouraging theme is resonating. People are excited to serve this summer, but there is a sentiment that this should be just the beginning of the serving, that they hope this one-time service opportunity develops into a year-long relationship with the nonprofit they are helping. How amazing that would be.
There are still 49 serving opportunities still available. It’s not too late to sign up for a project. Simply visit the Serve Sioux Falls web site at www.servesiouxfalls.com and click the “Find a Project” button. The projects that still have serving opportunities available are listed on the first few pages.
For those of you who are planning to complete a service project, thank you for sharing your time and talents. If you have not signed up for a project, please prayerfully consider signing up for a project and then get your family, friends, co-workers or church members to join you in helping serve our city.
The time has come.