There is nothing like service to others that heals my soul and makes me feel like we have the power to bring change to the world, one small act at a time.
Bending down and meeting the gaze of a child or a senior, touching their hands, offering them help --- there is nothing more gratifying or therapeutic, in my view. It puts my own struggles in perspective, gives me purpose, and helps me feel a powerful connection to something bigger than myself. I have sought out these enriching experiences for decades and am eager to get back to serving others in 2021.
In a normal year, I volunteer locally and go on one or two international medical mission trips focused on addressing the health needs of children. My destinations have included Haiti, Cambodia, Swaziland, and Nepal. That’s all been placed on hold.
During the pandemic, we’ve been relegated to virtual connections. Interacting online has been a workable substitute, but I find myself yearning for the more meaningful, in-person connections that will come with our post-pandemic lives.
So, what am I most looking forward to in 2021? It’s the simple things --- shaking hands and hugging people, being in the same room with people and having real eye contact, engaging in conversations without accidentally hitting mute, relaxing with friends at a favorite neighborhood hangout, face to face, without worry.
I’m a deeply social person. If I’m yearning for connection, imagine the hundreds of Tempe seniors and people with disabling conditions who’ve been isolated in their homes for almost a year. No one to visit and offer a hug. No one to share a cup of coffee and hold their hand. Think of the homeless individuals who are struggling more than ever. I deeply miss serving people in person.
When we do our parts to avoid transmission and be vaccinated, the pandemic will subside and eventually it will not be the foremost reality of our lives. And, when that time comes, I hope you will resume your own way of connecting with others and incorporate volunteer service into your lives. There are plenty of opportunities for service and many people in need right here in Tempe.
What I’m most excited about is how my work as a Tempe City Councilmember is quickly becoming a reflection of my passion for serving others. Mayor Corey Woods has asked me to co-chair the upcoming new City Council committee focused on Human Services and I cannot wait to get started.
I’ve also been appointed to the National League of Cities 2021 Human Development Federal Advocacy Committee, which develops policy positions that support cities around the country in strengthening their social services, including children and learning, poverty and income support, employment and workforce development, individuals with disabilities, public health care, mental health parity, and more.
In 2021, I also want to see the city make progress in the availability of workforce and affordable housing. Mayor Corey Woods’ Hometown for All initiative (tempe.gov/HometownforAll) will help greatly with this goal.
I am also looking forward to celebrating Tempe’s past, present and future during our 150th birthday celebrations. After all this time apart, Tempe’s sesquicentennial will be a wonderful way to bring our community back together. Find out what is being planned at tempe.gov/tempe150.
Serving people is always my top priority. It connects me with others and brings meaning to the work I do. I truly believe it’s what lies at the heart of who we are as a city.
I aspire to be a servant leader for our community. It’s why I ran for City Council. I’m so honored and grateful that you’ve given me the opportunity to have an even greater impact through service in the years to come.
Please reach out to me anytime with questions or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 480-350-8796. More information about my Council service is at tempe.gov/garlid and I invite you to follow me on Facebook at @DoreenGarlidTempe.
Editor's note: Ms. Garlid is a member of Tempe City Council