Election Day? Vote, then Serve Your Community

Nov 3, 2020

In this presidential election year, it can feel like a lot is at stake. Of course, voting is one very important way to make your voice heard and affect change at the highest levels of government. But in times like these–when food insecurity has surged due to the COVID-19 pandemic–the leadership you find in yourself can make the biggest difference in someone else’s life.

As hunger grips millions of families in our country, military veterans of diverse backgrounds are uniting to combat food insecurity through Operation Nourish, a national initiative of The Mission Continues. Operation Nourish addresses this urgent need by harnessing The Mission Continues’ committed volunteer force in cities across the country to support the distribution and growing of food.

Tony Martinez, a military veteran residing in Killeen, Texas, is one such mission-driven volunteer who has taken self-actualization to heart. He said, “If our hopes of a better and safer world are to become more than just wishful thinking […] I need to act locally and volunteer in my community to help create a visible impact.” Tony has served as a leader of his local volunteer group, called a “platoon,” since 2018. “Service Platoons connect local veterans and dedicated local partners to tackle community challenges through collective action, which genuinely align with my personal values.”

In support of Operation Nourish, he and his fellow platoon members partnered with Richard E. Cavazos Elementary School to “build a garden that would accommodate children with disabilities while providing fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need,” recounts Tony. In a series of dedicated service events, they accomplished their goal, and continue to find ways to support Operation Nourish in Killeen.

The benefits of volunteering can also help counteract the heavy toll on mental health many people feel from the anxiety leading up to the presidential election and the mounting effects of COVID-19. When Tony joined Operation Nourish, “my participation decreased the effects of social isolation and self-harm ideations.” Service projects can be accomplished socially distanced and outdoors, and the collective action among volunteers can foster a strong sense of connection and social support with each other and the people they’re aiding.

In this light, one can see why, despite anxiety over the election, The Mission Continues’ volunteers like Tony are focused on what they can do right now to move the needle on food insecurity in their communities. In Tony’s words of wisdom, “It’s a global problem, but with your help, can be tackled locally, one community at a time…Now, more than ever, civic engagement at a local level is crucial.” Regardless of election outcomes this year and in years to come, you can count on The Mission Continues veterans to become civic leaders and make a lasting impact on tangible issues facing communities.

To get engaged in your community, find your local service platoon and sign up for a day of service. Join the movement to make a difference today!

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