By Sandy Burkholder
After more than thirty-five years, the prospect of transitioning from full time employment to whatever comes after government service loomed as both an exciting opportunity to explore new things and a daunting change in life rhythms. No more 6:00am wakeup alarms and no more morning commutes sounded great, but giving up the daily interaction with colleagues and severing a connection to initiatives with global scope and impact made me sad. What would I do with my time and where would I focus my energy? I needed a new plan.
About that time, I struck up a conversation with (then brand new) Volunteer Arlington Director Lisa Fikes. She casually mentioned her idea for creating a new Arlington tradition – a day of service to the community in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. She envisioned something that would embody the spirit of Dr. King’s commitment to serve others and would move beyond motivational speeches to something that would make a difference. Then she invited me to join her. I love it when the universe just hands you a great opportunity. I couldn’t wait to get started!
Starting things designed to enhance the community where I live is right up my alley. While serving as a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State, I helped to organize a new group to mentor women in the Department “Executive Women at State” and served on the board when I was posted in Washington, D.C. I also helped to establish the “Plot Against Hunger,” while serving on the Arlington Food Assistance Center Board, to bring more fresh produce to AFAC’s clients.
Lisa’s vision for MLK Day sounded like an amazing opportunity to bring multiple facets of the Arlington community together to make our community even better. It’s embarrassing how much fun we’ve been having planning the event. It’s going to be a wonderful experience for the volunteers and for the community organizations that participate. I believe Dr. King would’ve approved. Please join us!